Developmental exposure to the agricultural fungicide vinclozolin can impair reproductive function in male rabbits and was previously found to decrease the number of immunoreactive-gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurones in the region of the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis and rostral preoptic area by postnatal week (PNW) 6. In the present study, in an aim to further examine the disruption of GnRH neurones by foetal vinclozolin exposure, pregnant rabbits were dosed orally with vinclozolin, flutamide or carrot paste vehicle for the last 2 weeks of gestation. Offspring were euthanised at birth (males and females), PNW 6 (females), PNW 26 (adult males) or PNW 30 (adult females) of age. At birth and in adults, brains were sectioned and processed for immunoreactive GnRH. The numbers of immunoreactive GnRH neuronal perikarya were significantly decreased in vinclozolin-treated rabbits at birth and in adult littermates. By contrast, there was an increase in GnRH immunoreactivity in the terminals in the region of the median eminence. Analysis of PNW 6 female brains by radioimmunoassay revealed a two-fold increase in GnRH peptide content in the mediobasal hypothalamus in vinclozolin-treated rabbits. This finding was complemented by immunofluorescence analyses, which revealed a 2.8-fold increase in GnRH immunoreactivity in the median eminence of vinclozolin compared to vehicle-treated females at PNW 30. However, there was no difference between treatment groups in the measures of reproduction that were evaluated: ejaculation latency, conception rates or litter size. These results indicate that sub-acute, prenatal vinclozolin treatment is sufficient to create perdurable alterations in the GnRH neuronal network that forms an important input into the reproductive axis. Finally, the effect of vinclozolin on the GnRH neuronal network was not comparable to that of flutamide, suggesting that vinclozolin was not acting through anti-androgenic mechanisms.
- Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience