The neuropeptides vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and gonadal inhibin have long been considered putative regulators of reproduction in hens. However, their role in young roosters remains unclear. We studied the effect of active immunization against VIP, inhibin, and a combination of both hormones on reproduction in young White Leghorn roosters. At 13 wk of age, White Leghorn roosters (n = 60) were split into 4 groups (n = 15). One group was actively immunized against VIP, the second against inhibin, the third against both VIP and inhibin, and the fourth, untreated, served as a control. Active immunization against VIP enhanced reproductive parameters as manifested by increased semen quality, plasma steroid levels, and mRNA gene expression of hypothalamic gonadotropin- releasing hormone-I, pituitary follicle-stimulating hormone, pituitary luteinizing hormone (LH), and decreased mRNA gene expression of hypothalamic VIP, pituitary prolactin, and testicular LH receptor. In contrast, immunization against inhibin decreased reproductive parameters such as semen quality, plasma steroid levels, mRNA gene expression of pituitary follicle-stimulating hormone and testicular inhibin. The combined treatment showed the greatest increase in semen quality parameters, plasma steroid levels, and mRNA gene expression of hypothalamic gonadotropinreleasing hormone-I, pituitary follicle-stimulating hormone, pituitary LH, and testicular LH receptor. Moreover, it significantly reduced mRNA gene expression of hypothalamic VIP and pituitary prolactin and mildly reduced that of testicular inhibin. These results suggest that VIP plays a negative role, at a young age, in reproduction of roosters that is similar to that in hens and that inhibin is as important in reproductive function in young roosters as in mammals.
- Semen quality
- Vasoactive intestinal peptide