Chronic administration of recombinant ovine leptin in growing beef heifers: effects on secretion of LH, metabolic hormones, and timing of puberty.
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Serum concentrations of leptin increase linearly from approximately 16 wk before until the week of pubertal ovulation in beef heifers. To test the hypothesis that exogenous leptin can hasten the onset of puberty in heifers, we examined the effects of chronic administration of recombinant ovine leptin (oleptin) on timing of puberty, pulsatile and GnRH-mediated release of LH, and plasma concentrations of GH, IGF-I, and insulin. Fourteen fall-born, prepubertal heifers (Brahman x Hereford, 12 to 13 mo; 304.7+/-4.12 kg) were used. Heifers were stratified by age and BW and assigned randomly to one of two groups (seven animals per group): 1) Control; heifers received s.c. injections of saline twice daily (0700 and 1900) for 40 d; and 2) Leptin; heifers received s.c. injections of oleptin (19.2 microg/kg) twice daily at 0700 and 1900 for 40 d. Blood samples were collected at 10-min intervals for 5 h on. d 0, 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40, and twice daily, just before each treatment injection, throughout the study. On d 41, heifers received i.v. injections of GnRH at 0 (0.0011 microg/kg) and 90 min (0.22 microg/kg), with additional sampling for 5.5 h to examine releasable pools of LH. Diets promoted a gain of 0.32+/-0.09 kg/d, which did not differ between groups. Plasma concentrations of leptin increased markedly in leptin-treated heifers and were greater (P < 0.001) than controls throughout (27.8+/-0.8 vs. 4.9+/-0.12 ng/mL). None of the heifers reached puberty during the experiment, but did so within 45 d of its termination. Mean concentrations of plasma LH, GH, IGF-I, and insulin were not affected by treatment, nor was there an overall effect on the frequency of LH pulses. However, a treatment x day interaction (P = 0.02) revealed that the frequency of LH pulses (pulses/ 5 h) was greater (P = 0.03) in controls (3.6+/-0.36) than in leptin-treated heifers (1.7+/- 0.28) on d 10. Characteristics of GnRH-induced release of LH were not affected by treatment. In summary, chronically administered leptin failed to induce puberty or alter endocrine characteristics in beef heifers nearing the time of expected puberty.