Serotonin and catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) have important roles as neurotransmitters in avian reproduction, but their anatomical relationship to the neuroendocrine circuitry that regulates reproduction is poorly understood. Our previous studies have shown that co-localised dopamine-melatonin (DA-MEL) neurones in the avian premammillary nucleus (PMM) are active during periods of photoresponsiveness and, therefore, are potentially photosensitive neurones. Because serotonergic and catecholaminergic neurotransmitters are important regulators of reproductive function in the female turkey, we hypothesised that the serotonergic/catecholaminergic neurones within the brainstem might interact with PMM DA-MEL neurones and constitute an important circuit for reproductive function. To examine this possible interaction, the retrograde fluorescent tract tracer, 1,1′dioctadecyl-3,3,3′3′-tetramethyleindocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI) was injected into the PMM, and combined with serotonin, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) and phenyl N-methyltransferse (PNMT) immunocytochemistry to reveal neuroanatomical connections. Changes in the activities of serotonergic, dopaminergic, adrenergic and noradrenergic neuronal systems projecting to the PMM were measured at different reproductive states with in situ hybridisation (ISH) techniques, using tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2) and TH mRNA expression, respectively. Cells labelled with DiI were found in anatomically discrete areas in or near the hypothalamus and the brainstem. Double immunocytochemistry confirmed that there were serotonin, DBH and PNMT fibres in close apposition to DA-MEL neurones. TPH2 mRNA expression in serotonin neurones was found in several nuclei, and its most abundant mRNA expression was seen in the nucleus Locus ceruleus of laying and incubating hens. TH mRNA expression levels in the six catecholaminegic areas labelled with DiI was measured across the different reproductive states. In the nucleus tractus solitarius (adrenergic), the highest level of TH mRNA expression was found in photorefractory hens and the lowest level in incubating hens. These observed patterns of serotonin/catecholamine neuronal distribution and their variable interactions with PMM DA-MEL neurones during different reproductive states may offer a significant neuroanatomical basis for understanding the control of avian reproductive seasonality.
- Avian brain
- In situ hybridisation