Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Animal and Nutritional Sciences

Committee Chair

Robert L. Goodman.


Ovine reproduction is characterized by a breeding season and an anestrous season. Seasonal anestrus is induced by increased responsiveness of the GnRH neurosecretory system to estrogen (E) negative feedback. Previous studies have shown that inhibitory A15 dopamine neurons mediate this increased sensitivity to E, however, these neurons lack E receptors. In this thesis we performed three experiments. For experiment 1 we looked at the specific sites of actions that thyroid hormones act to cause neuronal plasticity of A15 DA neurons, utilizing dual-labeled immunocytochemistry. The results of this study demonstrated no change in dendrite morphology or the number of close contacts of A15 DA neurons. Because of the inconclusive data observed in Experiment 1, the final two experiments investigated the role of GABA as an estrogen-responsive afferent to A15 DA neurons. Studies have shown that GABA neurons express E receptors and local administration of a GABAA receptor agonist in the A15 elevates LH levels in anestrous ewes. In experiment 2, we tested if this effect of the GABAA agonist occurs directly on A15 neurons by determining whether A15 dopamine neurons express GABAA receptors and if the expression of the GABAA receptor increases in the breeding season, utilizing dual labeling immunocytochemistry. Approximately 30 percent of A15 DA neurons express GABAA receptors, whereas 40 percent and 80 percent colocalization was seen in A14 DA neurons and A12 DA neurons respectively. There was no seasonal difference in receptor expression in any dopamine populations investigated. The third experiment investigated the whether administration of both GABAA and GABAB receptor antagonists into the A15 would cause a suppression in LH in OVX, anestrus season ewes and if administration of a dopamine receptor antagonist reverses this suppression. Administration of the antagonists locally into the A15 caused a significant decrease in LH pulse frequency and LH concentrations, however LH amplitude was unaffected. The dopamine receptor antagonist treatment caused a significant increase in mean LH concentrations. These data are consistent with a role for GABA in mediating estrogen negative feedback in anestrus.