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Effects of parental experience and age on expression of prolactin, vasoactive intestinal peptide and their receptors in a biparental bird, Columba livia

Citation

Farrar, Victoria; Ramirez, Alison; Calisi, Rebecca (2022), Effects of parental experience and age on expression of prolactin, vasoactive intestinal peptide and their receptors in a biparental bird, Columba livia, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.25338/B8H352

Abstract

As animals gain parental experience, they often show more rapid and efficient parental care responses that likely improve offspring survival and fitness. Changes in circulating hormones that underlie reproductive behaviors, including prolactin, have been found to correlate with parental experience in birds and mammals. Altered responsiveness to prolactin in key behavioral centers of the brain may also underlie the effects of experience on parental behaviors. Further, experience may also affect responsiveness to prolactin stimulatory hormones, such as hypothalamic vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). While experience has been shown to upregulate neural prolactin receptors and responsiveness in rodents, its effects on prolactin receptor gene expression remain unstudied in birds. To address this, we examined gene expression of pituitary prolactin, hypothalamic prolactin receptors in the preoptic area, hypothalamic VIP, and pituitary VIP receptors in both sexes of the biparental rock dove (Columba livia) when birds were not actively nesting. As age and parental experience are often confounded (i.e.,experienced parents tend to be older than their inexperienced counterparts), we measured gene expression in birds of varying combinations of age (0.6–3 years) and prior reproductive experience (0–12 chicks raised). We found that increasing experience with chicks correlated with lower PRLR expression in the preoptic area, and age correlated with lower VIP expression in birds of both sexes. Pituitary PRL and VIPR expression was not associated with parental experience or age. These results suggest there may be persistent effects of experience and age on neural responsiveness to, and regulation of, prolactin in birds.

Methods

This data was collected by running quantitative PCR on RNA extracted from pituitaries and microdissected hypothalami of rock doves (Columba livia).

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS1846381

Animal Behavior Society

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB)

NSF IOS, Award: 1846381

Animal Behavior Society Student Research

University of California Davis Louis Stokes Alliance