Visfatin exists in two forms: the intracellular form which is a rate limiting enzyme engaged in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide biosynthesis and the extracellular form considered as an adipokine, produced mainly by the adipose tissue. Visfatin could be an energy sensor involved in regulating female fertility, which creates a hormonal link integrating the control of energy homeostasis and reproduction.
The study compares the expression levels of visfatin gene (quantitative real time PCR) and protein (Western blotting and fluorescent immunohistochemistry) in the selected areas of the porcine hypothalamus responsible for gonadotropin releasing hormone synthesis: the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) and preoptic area (POA), and visfatin concentrations in the blood plasma (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). The tissue samples were harvested from gilts on days 2-3, 10-12, 14-16 and 17-19 of the estrous cycle, and on days 10-11, 12-13, 15-16, 27-28 of pregnancy. Differences between groups were analyzed by one-way ANOVA followed by Tukey’s post hoc test.
During the estrous cycle, visfatin mRNA expression in the MBH was higher on days 2-3 and 17-19, while the visfatin protein concentration on days 17-19. During early pregnancy, the most pronounced gene and protein expression in the MBH was found on days 15-16 and 10-11, respectively. In the POA during the estrous cycle, visfatin gene expression was the highest on days 17-19, and the protein level of visfatin on days 14-16. During early pregnancy, the highest expression of visfatin gene in the POA was observed on days 15-16, whereas the protein concentrations on days 27-28. Blood plasma concentrations of visfatin during the estrous cycle were higher on days 2-3 in relation to other studied phases of the cycle. During early pregnancy, the highest visfatin contents in the blood plasma were observed on days 12-13. Visfatin gene and protein expression in MBH and POA, and visfatin plasma concentrations differed during early pregnancy in relation to days 10-12 of the cycle.
This study demonstrated visfatin expression in the porcine hypothalamus and its dependence on hormonal milieu related to the estrous cycle and early pregnancy.