Life-long moderate caloric restriction prolongs reproductive life span in rats without interrupting estrous cyclicity: Effects on the gonadotropin-releasing hormone/luteinizing hormone axis

Teresa M. McShane, Phyllis M. Wise

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Restricting food intake to 60% that of ad libitum-fed rats results in an extended life span, reduced incidence of age-related diseases, and delayed reproductive senescence. We used this animal model to further elucidate the mechanisms whereby reproductive senescence is delayed. Female Sprague-Dawley rats (7 wk old) were calorically restricted (CR; n = 70) to 60% of the ad libitum (AL) intake measured in control rats (n = 70). Rats were individually housed under a 14L:10D cycle and fed daily within 1.5 h of lights-off. Body weights were monitored every 2 wk, and vaginal lavage was performed until rats were ovariectomized (OVX). Two weeks after OVX, when rats were 4, 12, or 18 mo of age, blood samples were taken via jugular cannulae every 6 min for 3 h, and the plasma was assayed for rat LH. The resulting profiles were examined through use of Cluster analysis for mean LH concentrations, LH pulse amplitude, and interval between LH pulses. CR rats grew at a slower rate, and then maintained body weights at approximately 76% that of AL controls between 4 and 17.5 mo of age. The onset of persistent estrus was delayed by 4 mo in CR rats. Average cycle length was longer (p < 0.01) by less than 0.5 days in CR compared with AL rats between 3.5 and 5.5 mo of age but not different between 6.5 and 11.5 mo. Mean levels of LH in OVX rats decreased with age (p < 0.01), increased with caloric restriction (p < 0.05), and decreased with declining cycling status of the animal prior to OVX (regular [reg] vs. irregular [ir] vs. persistent estrus [pe]; p < 0.05). The increased mean LH due to caloric restriction was attributed to an increase in mean pulse amplitude and not to a decrease in time interval between LH pulses. From these data we conclude that the beneficial effects of caloric restriction on reproductive longevity may be acting at the level of the hypothalamus and/or pituitary to enhance LH secretion and do not require a delay in puberty or a period of acyclicity.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)70-75
    Number of pages6
    JournalBiology of reproduction
    Volume54
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1996

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Reproductive Medicine
    • Cell Biology

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