Reciprocal changes in leptin and NPY during nutritional acceleration of puberty in heifers.
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Feeding a high-concentrate diet to heifers during the juvenile period, resulting in increased body weight (BW) gain and adiposity, leads to early-onset puberty. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the increase in GnRH/LH release during nutritional acceleration of puberty is accompanied by reciprocal changes in circulating leptin and central release of neuropeptide Y (NPY). The heifers were weaned at 3.5 months of age and fed to gain either 0.5 (Low-gain; LG) or 1.0 kg/day (High-gain; HG) for 30 weeks. A subgroup of heifers was fitted surgically with third ventricle guide cannulas and was subjected to intensive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood sampling at 8 and 9 months of age. Mean BW was greater in HG than in LG heifers at week 6 of the experiment and remained greater thereafter. Starting at 9 months of age, the percentage of pubertal HG heifers was greater than that of LG heifers, although a replicate effect was observed. During the 6-h period in which CSF and blood were collected simultaneously, all LH pulses coincided with or shortly followed a GnRH pulse. At 8 months of age, the frequency of LH pulses was greater in the HG than in the LG group. Beginning at 6 months of age, concentrations of leptin were greater in HG than in LG heifers. At 9 months of age, concentrations of NPY in the CSF were lesser in HG heifers. These observations indicate that increased BW gain during juvenile development accelerates puberty in heifers, coincident with reciprocal changes in circulating concentrations of leptin and hypothalamic NPY release.