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Long-Term Undernutrition Followed by Short-Term Refeeding Effects on the Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone Containing Neurones in the Paraventricular Nucleus: An Immunohistochemical Study in Sheep


Y. Tillet, Laboratoire de Neuroendocrinologie Sexuelle, INRA-PRC, 37380 Nouzilly, France (e-mail:


The effect of nutritional level on the immunoreactivity of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in neurones of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus was described in sheep, a ruminant, whose feeding strategy differs from that of monogastric species. Two groups of ewes were underfed (40%), or fed at maintenance (100%) for 167 days, after which one-half of each group was killed or ad libitum refed (at least 150% of maintenance) for 4 days before killing. The presence of CRH in the paraventricular nucleus was examined by immunohistochemistry. The number of CRH immunoreactive neurones was increased in underfed ewes, but without modification of the plasma concentration of cortisol, indicating that the rise of CRH was not released in the portal blood nor linked to the pituitary-adrenal axis. Refeeding did not modify significantly the number of CRH immunoreactive neurones in the nucleus although these neurones were increased, only in refed ewes that were previously underfed. These data differ from those for rats and mice where CRH expression is decreased or not modified by underfeeding which could reflect different effects of undernutrition on CRH immunoreactive neurones in monogastric compared to ruminants species.