Oral Presentation The International Congress of Neuroendocrinology 2014

Modulation of adrenal activity across reproductive stages: does CORT play a unique role in the reproductive physiology of Australian fauna? (#26)

Kerry V Fanson 1
  1. Centre for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University, 75 Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds, VIC, 3216, Australia

Increases in circulating glucocorticoid (GC) concentration are generally assumed to have a negative effect on reproductive function.  However, it has been well documented in a range of taxa that increases in GCs are actually required for healthy ovarian function, particularly ovulation.  Acknowledging the role of GCs in facilitating ovarian function is important for both reproductive and stress physiology studies.  Australia is home to many unique animal species with unusual reproductive patterns.  Unfortunately, other than the extreme example of male die-off in dasyurids, very little is known about how adrenal activity is modulated throughout the reproductive cycle.  This makes it difficult to predict the effect of stress on fecundity, reproductive success, and offspring phenotype.  Here, I will (1) review what is known about the facilitative effects of GCs on reproductive function in eutherian mammals, (2) highlight the gaps in our knowledge about normative changes in GCs in marsupials across reproductive stages, (3) discuss future directions of how we can use comparisons between marsupials and eutherians to increase our understanding of how GCs affect reproductive function.  I will also discuss how the unique ecology of Australia may shape the GC-reproduction relationship in Australian fauna and how we can disentangle normative versus stress-induced effects of GCs.