Nutrition, metabolic hormones, and sexual development in bulls
Brito, Leonardo Fonseca Castro de
A series of experiments was conducted to evaluate the effects of nutrition during calfhood (defined as the period from 10 to 26-30 wk of age) and peripubertal period (defined as the period from 27-31 to 70-74 wk of age) on sexual development and reproductive function in beef bulls. The overall objective of these experiments was to evaluate the effects of nutrition on endogenous metabolic hormones (leptin, insulin, GH, and IGF-I), gonadotropins and testosterone concentrations, sexual development, sperm production, and semen quality in bulls. The results of these experiments demonstrated that nutrition affected GnRH secretion and sexual development in bulls. Increased nutrition during calfhood resulted in a more sustained increase in LH pulse frequency during the early gonadotropin rise and greater testicular development at maturity. On the other hand, low nutrition during calfhood suppressed LH secretion during the early gonadotropin rise and resulted in delayed puberty and reduced testicular development at maturity. When low nutrition was accomplished by restricted feed intake, hypothalamic and pituitary function were compromised and LH secretion was more severely affected. Temporal associations between LH secretion patterns and circulating IGF-I concentrations implied that IGF-I is a possible signal to the central “metabolic sensor” involved in translating body nutritional status to the GnRH pulse generator. Nutrition also affected testicular steroidogenesis (testosterone concentrations), indicating effects on the number or function of Leydig cells, or both. Age-related increases in physiological and GnRH-stimulated circulating testosterone concentrations were hastened in bulls receiving high nutrition and delayed in bulls receiving low nutrition; these effects were probably mediated by both LH secretion and IGF-I concentrations. Circulating leptin and insulin may have only permissive roles on GnRH secretion, but may enhance testicular development. Growth hormone concentrations decreased concomitantly with increasing IGF-I concentrations during sexual development in bulls, suggesting that the testes could contribute considerable amounts of circulating IGF-I. In conclusion, management strategies to optimize reproductive function in bulls should focus on increasing nutrition during calfhood.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
DepartmentLarge Animal Clinical Sciences
ProgramLarge Animal Clinical Sciences
SupervisorBarth, Albert D.
CommitteeRawlings, Norman C.; McKinnon, John J.; Kastelic, John; Crews, Denny Jr.; Carruthers, Terry D.
Copyright DateMarch 2006