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BJ Holmberg, CD Morrison, and DH Keisler

Urocortin is a novel corticotropin-releasing factor-like peptide, first isolated from the rat midbrain, which has anorexigenic properties, possibly associated with its involvement in the stress axis. Urocortin has been implicated in blood pressure regulation, ACTH release and feed intake, but its role as an integral component of the reproduction-nutrition axis has not been examined. The present experiment was designed to determine the effects of i.c.v. infusion of urocortin on feed intake and endocrine profiles of LH, GH, IGF-I, cortisol and leptin in ovariectomized ewes. Ewes were fitted with two laterocerebroventricular cannulae and urocortin was continuously infused in a linearly increasing manner from 0.001 microg/h on day 0, to a maximum of 31.6 microg/h on day 5. Blood samples were collected via jugular catheters at 10 min intervals for 4 h on day 1, 3 and 5, and assayed by RIA for LH, GH, IGF-I, cortisol and leptin. All ewes were allowed free access to feed and water, and feed intake was recorded daily. Urocortin-infused ewes responded with a significant decrease in feed intake beginning on day 1 (P<0.02) and were aphagic for the remainder of the experiment. Serum concentrations of LH were elevated in individual samples from urocortin-treated compared with saline-treated ewes on day 3 (treatment x day x sample, P=0.05), but were not different on day 1 or 5. Mean serum concentrations of GH increased (P<0.04) over days with urocortin treatment, although concentrations of IGF-I were not influenced by treatment (P>0.5). Serum concentrations of cortisol were markedly increased by urocortin treatment (P<0.001). Leptin tended to be influenced by treatment and day (P=0.08), with leptin levels tending to be elevated in urocortin-treated vs saline-treated ewes on day 5 (P=0.08). The ability of urocortin to decrease feed intake while increasing LH, GH, cortisol and leptin provides evidence that urocortin is not only an integral component of the stress axis, but possibly of the nutrition-reproduction axis in sheep.

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BE Salfen, JA Carroll, and DH Keisler

The study objective was to assess endocrine and tIssue responses to feed deprivation in weaned pigs. In experiment 1, eight crossbred castrated male pigs were either fed on a continual basis (CON; n=4) or were feed deprived for 24 h and then re-fed until 30 h (FD; n=4). Relative serum concentrations of ghrelin tended to be lower in FD pigs at 12 h (P=0.08) when compared with CON pigs, but was higher at 24 h and 30 h compared with 12 h (P<0.05). Serum IGF-I was lower in FD pigs from 12 to 30 h as compared with CON pigs (P<0.05) and increased following re-feeding (P<0.06). Experiment 2 consisted of 32 pigs that were either fed for 72 or 96 h (CON72 and CON96; n=16), feed deprived for 72 h (FD72; n=8), or FD72 and then re-fed from 72-96 h (FD72/RF24; n=8). Ghrelin in the FD72 and FD72/RF24 groups was lower at 12 h (P<0.03) compared with CON pigs, but then increased from 12 h to 36 h (P<0.01). Serum IGF-I and leptin decreased following feed deprivation (P<0.001) and remained low until re-feeding. Cortisol was elevated from 12 h to 72 h during feed deprivation (P<0.01) but was not different from CON96 pigs following refeeding (P>0.88). Expression of ghrelin mRNA tended to be lower in the FD72 pigs' stomachs, pituitary glands, and hypothalami (P=0.06, 0.07, and 0.08 respectively) compared with CON pigs. These results provide evidence that feed deprivation is accompanied by multiple changes in the endocrine and neuroendocrine axis which influences feed intake, somatotropic response, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis hormone concentrations.

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CD Morrison, JA Daniel, BJ Holmberg, J Djiane, N Raver, A Gertler, and DH Keisler

Leptin has been implicated in the regulation of feed intake, growth, and reproduction. The objective of this study was to determine if centrally administered leptin would affect feed intake and the secretion of growth hormone (GH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) in ewe lambs. Eighteen ewe lambs were ovariectomized and fitted with intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) cannulae. Lambs were randomly assigned to receive either a maintenance diet (fed), or a diet that provided 38% of maintenance requirements (diet-restricted) for 14 weeks. Subsequently, recombinant ovine leptin or vehicle was continuously infused, via i.c.v. cannulae, in a linearly increasing dose for 8 days, reaching a maximum of 1.25 microg/kg per h. Feed intake was recorded on days -1 to 7. Blood was collected via jugular cannulae every 10 min for 4 h on days 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 for the determination of serum leptin, insulin, LH and GH. Leptin suppressed feed intake in fed lambs on days 4 to 7 (P<0.001), but had no effect on feed intake in diet-restricted lambs (P>0.25). Fed lambs had greater serum concentrations of leptin than diet-restricted lambs (P=0.007). Also, although not different on day 0 (pretreatment), on day 8 serum leptin concentrations were greater in leptin-treated lambs than in saline-treated lambs (P=0.003). Insulin was lower in diet-restricted than in fed lambs (P=0.003), but was not affected by leptin treatment (P=0.82). LH pulse frequencies were lower in diet-restricted lambs than in fed lambs (P=0.038), but were not affected by leptin treatment (P=0.85). Mean serum GH was greater in diet-restricted than in fed lambs (P<0.01). In diet-restricted lambs treated with leptin or saline, mean GH did not differ on day 0, but increased in response to leptin treatment (P<0.006). Treatment of fed lambs with leptin did not affect serum GH (P>0.32). From this work, we propose that leptin represents an important functional link between adipose stores and hypothalamic function in ruminants. We demonstrate that leptin concentrations change in response to reduced nutritional status, and that leptin has the ability to regulate multiple physiological processes in lambs, including both feed intake and secretion of GH.

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C Delavaud, F Bocquier, Y Chilliard, DH Keisler, A Gertler, and G Kann

A specific leptin RIA was developed to assess concentrations of leptin in ovine plasma, and was shown to be efficient with bovine and caprine plasma. A specific, high-affinity antibody was generated against recombinant ovine leptin which, when used in a competitive leptin RIA, provided valid estimates of linearity (r=+0.989-0.998), recovery (102%), repeatability (13%) and limit of sensitivity (0.83 ng/ml for 100 microl sample size). Serial dilutions of five ovine, bovine or caprine plasma samples showed good linearity and parallelism with the recombinant ovine leptin standard curve. A comparison of this RIA was made with a commercial 'multi-species' RIA kit using 56 ovine plasma samples. Major differences were found in assay sensitivity. Non-lactating, non-pregnant, ovariectomized ewes were fed a ration for 65 days which provided 90+/-9% (control; n=12) or 39+/-2% of maintenance energy requirements (underfed; n=16) in order to analyse the respective effects of body fatness (estimated by either an in vivo dilution technique or body condition scoring) and of nutritional status on plasma leptin concentration. There was a significant positive correlation between body fatness or body condition score and plasma leptin levels (r=+0.68, P<0.001 or r=+0.72, P<0.001 respectively). When concentrations of leptin were assessed over time, underfed ewes exhibited a dramatic reduction in plasma leptin values (-56%, P<0.001). These data provide strong evidence that, in sheep, the variations in plasma concentrations of leptin are related to variations in body fatness (35%) and, to a lesser extent, in nutritional status (17%).