Prepubertal gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog leads to exaggerated behavioral and emotional sex differences in sheep
Wojniusz, Slawomir × Vogele, Claus Ropstad, Erik Evans, Neil Robinson, Jane Sütterlin, Stefan Erhard, Hans W Solbakk, Anne-Kristin Endestad, Tor Olberg, Dag Erlend Haraldsen, Ira Ronit Hebold #
Hormones and Behavior vol:59 issue:1 pages:22-27
In mammals, sex specialization is reflected by differences in brain anatomy and function. Measurable differences are documented in reproductive behavior, cognition, and emotion. We hypothesized that gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) plays a crucial role in controlling the extent of the brain's sex specificity and that changes in GnRH action during critical periods of brain development, such as puberty, will result in altered sex-specific behavioral and physiological patterns. We blocked puberty in half of the 48 same-sex Scottish mule Texel cross sheep twins with GnRH analog (GnRHa) goserelin acetate every 3 weeks, beginning just before puberty. To determine the effects of GnRHa treatment on sex-specific behavior and emotion regulation in different social contexts, we employed the food acquisition task (FAT) and measurement of heart rate variability (HRV). ANOVA revealed significant sex and sex x treatment interaction effects, suggesting that treated males were more likely to leave their companions to acquire food than untreated, while the opposite effect was observed in females. Concordant results were seen in HRV; treated males displayed higher HRV than untreated, while the reverse pattern was found in females, as shown by significant sex and sex x treatment interaction effects. We conclude that long-term prepubertal GnRHa treatment significantly affected sex-specific brain development, which impacted emotion and behavior regulation in sheep. These results suggest that GnRH is a modulator of cognitive function in the developing brain and that the sexes are differentially affected by GnRH modulation.