The effect of early to mid-gestational nutrient restriction on female offspring fertility and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis response to stress

N. M. Long, M. J. Nijland, P. W. Nathanielsz, S. P. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Primiparous ewes born as singletons to Rambouillet × Columbia crossbred ewes fed either 100% of NRC recommendations (control, Con; n = 7) or 50% of NRC (nutrient restricted, NR; n = 7) from d 28 through 78 postmating were utilized for this study. At 1 yr of age, a subset of ewes born to Con (n = 4) and NR (n = 4) mothers received jugular catheters and were subjected to a corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH)/arginine vasopressin (AVP) challenge, an ACTH challenge, and an isolation stress test, in which ACTH and cortisol responses were determined. A week after these challenges, estrus was monitored twice daily in all ewes from Con (n = 7) and NR mothers (n = 7). Once estrus was observed (d 0), daily blood samples were collected from ewes for progesterone through the subsequent estrus. Estrous detection and daily blood sampling were repeated during an estrous cycle in the next year, ewes were hand mated at the second estrus, and pregnancy was determined by delivery of a live lamb(s). Ewes from NR mothers tended (P = 0.10) to have a greater peak ACTH response after an intravenous CRH/AVP injection than ewes from Con mothers. The cortisol response of ewes to a CRH/AVP or ACTH challenge was not influenced by maternal nutrition. In contrast, ewes from Con mothers tended (P = 0.10) to release more ACTH in response to the isolation stress test and showed a greater (P = 0.04) cortisol release than ewes from NR mothers. Ewes from NR mothers exhibited decreased (P < 0.05) plasma progesterone in both yr 1 and 2 of the study compared with ewes from Con mothers. Furthermore, fewer (P < 0.0001) ewes from NR mothers produced a lamb (1 of 7) than ewes from Con mothers (7 of 7) during yr 2 of the study. These findings indicate that maternal undernutrition during early gestation may affect stress responses by the offspring, but has limited impact on hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal sensitivity. Furthermore, offspring of NR ewes exhibited reduced progesterone secretion during the luteal phase of their estrous cycles and a markedly reduced fertility compared with offspring from Con ewes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2029-2037
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Volume88
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Female offspring
  • Fertility
  • Maternal undernutrition
  • Sheep
  • Stress response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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