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Title: Isolating the Role of Corticosterone in the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Transcriptomic Stress Response
Investigation of the negative impacts of stress on reproduction has largely centered around the effects of the adrenal steroid hormone, corticosterone (CORT), and its influence on a system of tissues vital for reproduction—the hypothalamus of the brain, the pituitary gland, and the gonads (the HPG axis). Research on the action of CORT on the HPG axis has predominated the stress and reproductive biology literature, potentially overshadowing other influential mediators. To gain a more complete understanding of how elevated CORT affects transcriptomic activity of the HPG axis, we experimentally examined its role in male and female rock doves ( Columba livia ). We exogenously administrated CORT to mimic circulating levels during the stress response, specifically 30 min of restraint stress, an experimental paradigm known to increase circulating CORT in vertebrates. We examined all changes in transcription within each level of the HPG axis as compared to both restraint-stressed birds and vehicle-injected controls. We also investigated the differential transcriptomic response to CORT and restraint-stress in each sex. We report causal and sex-specific effects of CORT on the HPG transcriptomic stress response. Restraint stress caused 1567 genes to uniquely differentially express while elevated circulating CORT was responsible for the differential expression of 304 genes. more » Only 108 genes in females and 8 in males differentially expressed in subjects that underwent restraint stress and those who were given exogenous CORT. In response to elevated CORT and restraint-stress, both sexes shared the differential expression of 5 genes, KCNJ5 , CISH , PTGER3 , CEBPD , and ZBTB16 , all located in the pituitary. The known functions of these genes suggest potential influence of elevated CORT on immune function and prolactin synthesis. Gene expression unique to each sex indicated that elevated CORT affected more gene transcription in females than males (78 genes versus 3 genes, respectively). To our knowledge, this is the first study to isolate the role of CORT in HPG genomic transcription during a stress response. We present an extensive and openly accessible view of the role corticosterone in the HPG transcriptomic stress response. Because the HPG system is well conserved across vertebrates, these data have the potential to inspire new therapeutic strategies for reproductive dysregulation in multiple vertebrate systems, including our own. « less
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Frontiers in Endocrinology
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National Science Foundation
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