The Reproductive Hypothalamic-Pituitary Axis in Lampreys

  • Stacia A. SowerEmail author
Part of the Fish & Fisheries Series book series (FIFI, volume 37)


This chapter reviews the knowledge of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis in the control of reproduction in lampreys. In gnathostomes, the hypothalamus and pituitary have well-defined roles in the control of reproduction. Up until the late 1970s, it was thought that the agnathan lampreys did not have the same neuroendocrine control of reproduction seen in the jawed vertebrates, in part due to their lack of the typical anatomical hypothalamic-pituitary connection. Since then and during the past three decades, there have been rapid advances in our knowledge of the structure and function of the hypothalamic and pituitary hormones and respective receptors in lampreys. This chapter highlights the delineation of the neuroendocrine system that has come from 30 years of research on the biochemical, molecular, anatomical, immunohistochemical, and functional studies that have established that lampreys, similar to the jawed vertebrates, have a hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis and that there is a high conservation of the mechanisms of gonadotropin-releasing hormone action. These findings also show that the neuroendocrine factors share common functional and developmental features compared to later evolved vertebrates.


Estradiol GABA Glycoprotein receptors Gonadotropin Gonadotropin inhibiting hormone Gonadotropin-releasing hormone GnIH GnRH GnRH receptors Hypothalamus Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis Kisspeptin Neuropeptide Y NPY Pituitary Pituitary glycoprotein hormones Petromyzon marinus RFamide peptides Thyrostimulin 



I dedicate this chapter to Professor Aubrey Gorbman (1914–2003) who laid the groundwork for agnathan comparative endocrinology and inspired many of his former students/postdocs/associates such as Professor Masumi Nozaki, Dr. Erika Plisetskaya, and myself to pursue agnathan endocrinology. The research in this chapter would not have been done without his mentorship and support over many years. It was an honor and privilege to have been his postdoctoral associate and then to continue as collaborators throughout my career. I also particularly thank the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and personnel, particularly Lee H. Hanson at Hammond Bay Biological Station, where many of the studies were done over a 20-year period. Funding has been provided during the past 30 years from the National Science Foundation, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, and National Institutes of Health. I would also like to thank personnel of the New Hampshire Fish and Game. The majority of the cited studies are from the laboratory of Dr. Stacia A. Sower, her colleagues, and students. There are many, many wonderful colleagues (in particular, Professors Hiroshi Kawauchi, Jean Joss, John Youson, Erika Plisetskaya, Masumi Nozaki) former students, postdoctoral research associates, and staff who have made many significant contributions to various aspects of the lamprey research and are greatly thanked for their contributions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Molecular and Comparative Endocrinology, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical SciencesUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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