Prolactin (PRL) promotes and coordinates the various physiological and behavioral changes that are necessary for successful parental care in vertebrates. Although the effects of PRL on peripheral target organs that serve parental functions have been studied in some depth, much less is known about how PRL acts directly or indirectly on the brain to induce parental behavior and associated neuroendocrine changes, such as reduced gonadal activity. This proposal employs a powerful avian model, the ring dove (Streptopelia risoria), to explore these effects in detail. The proposed studies build on our previous work to 1) characterize the neurochemical events that mediate these changes and 2) identify key components of the neural circuitry involved. Neurochemical investigations will evaluate neuropeptide Y (NPY) and adrenal glucocorticoids as potential mediators of PRL-induced parental hyperphagia (feeding) and gonadal suppression. These studies will examine the effects of intracerebroventricular (ICV) injections of these compounds and measure changes in NPY gene expression and protein in response to PRL or glucocorticoid injection. They will also determine if these PRL-induced changes are attenuated by blocking NPY or glucocorticoid action. Studies of possible GnRH mediation of PRL-induced gonadal suppression and dopamine involvement in PRL-induced parental hyperphagia are also proposed. Neuroanatomical investigations will use immunocytochemical detection of immediate-early gene products to identify neurons that are activated in response to ICV injection of PRL, NPY, and glucocorticoids, to visualize the pattern of neuronal activation associated with parental interactions with young, and to determine how the pattern changes in response to PRL and previous parental experience. These studies contribute to the long term objective of obtaining an integrated picture of how PRL influences brain function and behavior in a parental context. They will also increase our limited understanding of how adenohypophyseal hormones influence brain activity and provide new insights into the causes of infertility, energy balance, and behavioral alterations that are associated with hyperprolactinemia in the clinical setting.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-2 (01))
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University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Schools of Arts and Sciences
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Mantei, Kristen E; Ramakrishnan, Selvakumar; Sharp, Peter J et al. (2008) Courtship interactions stimulate rapid changes in GnRH synthesis in male ring doves. Horm Behav 54:669-75
Ramakrishnan, S; Strader, A D; Wimpee, B et al. (2007) Evidence for increased neuropeptide Y synthesis in mediobasal hypothalamus in relation to parental hyperphagia and gonadal activation in breeding ring doves. J Neuroendocrinol 19:163-71
Koch, Kristin A; Wingfield, John C; Buntin, John D (2004) Prolactin-induced parental hyperphagia in ring doves: are glucocorticoids involved? Horm Behav 46:498-505
Strader, April D; Schioth, Helgi B; Buntin, John D (2003) The role of the melanocortin system and the melanocortin-4 receptor in ring dove (Streptopelia risoria) feeding behavior. Brain Res 960:112-21
Strader, A D; Buntin, J D (2003) Changes in agouti-related peptide during the ring dove breeding cycle in relation to prolactin and parental hyperphagia. J Neuroendocrinol 15:1046-53
Koch, Kristin A; Wingfield, John C; Buntin, John D (2002) Glucocorticoids and parental hyperphagia in ring doves (Streptopelia risoria). Horm Behav 41:9-21
Strader, A D; Buntin, J D (2001) Neuropeptide-Y: a possible mediator of prolactin-induced feeding and regulator of energy balance in the ring dove (Streptopelia risoria). J Neuroendocrinol 13:386-92
Gamoke, C A; Moore, J C; Buntin, J D (2000) Motivational influences underlying prolactin-induced feeding in doves (Streptopelia risoria). Behav Neurosci 114:963-71
Ramesh, R; Kuenzel, W J; Buntin, J D et al. (2000) Identification of growth-hormone- and prolactin-containing neurons within the avian brain. Cell Tissue Res 299:371-83
Wang, Q; Buntin, J D (1999) The roles of stimuli from young, previous breeding experience, and prolactin in regulating parental behavior in ring doves (Streptopelia risoria). Horm Behav 35:241-53

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