British poultry science vol:36 issue:5 pages:779-90
1. The relationship between immunoreactive inhibin and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) was studied in male and female chickens from hatch to sexual maturity. Plasma inhibin was estimated by a heterologous radioimmunoassay validated for use in the chicken. FSH was measured by a recently developed homologous radioimmunoassay. 2. In a cross-sectional study, blood samples and gonads were collected from chickens of both sexes at 1, 3, 5, 7, 14, 21 and 28 d after hatching and subsequently at 14-day intervals until 182 d of age. 3. In the female, plasma progesterone concentration (P4) progressively increased during sexual development. The plasma luteinising hormone (LH) concentration rose during the first week after hatching, and fluctuated thereafter, with troughs at 6 and 14 weeks and peaks at weeks 10 and 18. The plasma inhibin and FSH concentrations remained low until the start of puberty and increased simultaneously thereafter. However, from week 18 on, plasma inhibin continued to rise while plasma FSH fell. Hence, FSH and inhibin were positively correlated before puberty, but developed a negative correlation during sexual maturation. 4. In the male, plasma testosterone and LH concentrations increased 38- and 3.7-fold respectively over the period studied. Inhibin and FSH followed similar time courses and were consequently positively correlated. 5. These results suggest sex differences in the role of inhibin in regulating FSH secretion during development. The FSH-inhibin feedback loop may become operational at the onset of sexual maturity in the hens. In male chickens, the similar pattern of inhibin and FSH secretion suggests that inhibin secretion is driven by FSH.