Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) is the avian prolactin releasing factor and changes in the concentrations of plasma prolactin (PRL) are found during the avian reproductive cycle. This study investigated the changes in the VIP/PRL system of native Thai hens rearing their young as compared to hens deprived of rearing their chicks. The number of VIP-immunoreactive (VIP-ir) neurons in the Nucleus inferioris hypothalami (IH) and Nucleus infundibuli hypothalami (IN) of hens rearing chicks (R) were compared with those of non-rearing chicks (NR). Plasma PRL levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The localization and number of VIP-ir neurons were determined by immunohistochemistry. The numbers of VIP-ir neurons in the IH-IN areas were high in the R hens, whereas the number of VIP-ir neurons decreased in the NR hens as compared to their respective R hens. During the rearing period, changes in the VIP-ir neurons within the IH-IN were correlated with plasma PRL levels. The results of the present study indicate for the first time that the VIP/PRL system plays a role in neuroendocrine reorganization to establish maternal behavior in native Thai chickens. The VIP/PRL system functions not only as a well established key regulator of incubation behavior, but is also involved in the regulation of rearing behavior. It is possible that VIP and the decline in the number of VIP-ir neurons and in turn VIPergic activity and the decrease in PRL levels are related to their contribution to rearing behavior of this non-seasonal breeding, equatorial precocial species.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) through the Royal Golden Jubilee (RGJ) Ph.D. Program (Grant No. PHD/0230/2548 to O.C. and Y.C.) and the National Research Council of Thailand to Y.C. The authors would like to thank the University Farm of Suranaree University of Technology for providing the chicken barns.
- Native Thai chicken
- Rearing behavior
- Reproductive cycle
- V III
- Vasoactive intestinal peptide