Gen Comp Endocrinol 2018 02 2;257:97-105. Epub 2017 Aug 2.
Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
Female three-spined sticklebacks are batch spawners laying eggs in a nest built by the male. We sampled female sticklebacks at different time points, when they were ready to spawn and 6, 24, 48 and 72h post-spawning (hps) with a male. Following spawning, almost all females (15 out of 19) had ovulated eggs again at Day 3 post-spawning (72hps). At sampling, plasma, brain and pituitaries were collected, and the ovary and liver were weighed. Testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) were measured by radioimmunoassay. Moreover, the mRNA levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (fsh-β) and luteinizing hormone (lh-β) in the pituitary, and of the gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRHs: gnrh2, gnrh3) and kisspeptin (kiss2) and its G protein-coupled receptor (gpr54) in the brain were measured by real-time qPCR. Ovarian weights peaked in "ready to spawn" females, dropped after spawning, before again progressively increasing from 6 to 72hps. Plasma T levels showed peaks at 24 and 48hps and decreased at 72hps, while E2 levels increased already at 6hps and remained at high levels up to 48hps. There was a strong positive correlation between T and E2 levels over the spawning cycle. Pituitary lh-β mRNA levels showed a peak at 48hps, while fsh-β did not change. The neuropeptides and gpr54 did not show any changes. The changes in T and E2 over the stickleback spawning cycle were largely consistent with those found in other multiple-spawning fishes whereas the marked correlation between T and E2 does not support T having other major roles over the cycle than being a precursor for E2.