Leptin transmits information about energy stored in the periphery to the reproductive axis and is an essential signal for puberty initiation in mammals; however, to date, few studies have focused on the direct effects of leptin stimulation on reproductive factors in fish. This study demonstrated the effect of leptin stimulation on important reproductive factors and ovarian development in the marine teleost chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus). We prepared recombinant leptin and conducted functional analyses through in vitro bioassays using primary pituitary cells, long-term leptin treatment administered to pre-pubertal females, and intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration. The results showed that leptin stimulation strongly induced gonadotropin (follicle-stimulating hormone: FSH and luteinizing hormone: LH) secretion from pituitary cells collected from pre-pubertal females, and that long-term leptin treatment significantly promoted ovarian development and triggered pubertal onset. Furthermore, ICV administration of leptin did not affect kisspeptin gene expression but significantly upregulated gonadotropin-releasing hormone 1 (gnrh1), fshb and lhb gene expression in sexually immature females. These results strongly suggest leptin as an important signal for reproductive-axis activation in chub mackerel.
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