Leptin research honored at animal science conference

Texas A&M student Adrian Arellano fields questions after his presentation in the Undergraduate Competition

Orlando, FL – Leptin was the star of the show at the ASAS Southern Section Undergraduate Competition. The winning paper, presented by Texas A&M University-Kingsville student Adrian Arellano, focused on the role of the hormone leptin in goat reproduction.

Animal scientists have long known that infertility in goats can be caused by irregularities in the ovaries. Infertile female goats sometimes have misshapen corpus lutea, the structures that produce reproductive hormones in the ovaries. One theory is that improving blood flow to the ovaries could improve fertility.

Arellano’s abstract, titled “Leptin plays a role in vascularization of ovarian tissue,” explored the importance of the hormone leptin in improving blood flow.

Arellano and fellow researchers implanted pumps to deliver saline, anti-leptin antibody and leptin to different groups of female goats. They found that administering anti-leptin antibody and leptin for seven days led to the development of large-diameter blood vessels leading to the ovaries. They also found that progesterone production was low in treatment goats compared to controls. Researchers still have a lot to learn about the role of leptin, but Arellano’s presentation showed that the hormone does play a role in blood flow to the ovaries.

This research has important scientific and economic implications. If producers can improve fertility in their animals, they could produce more meat and milk for human consumers.

“Being able to manipulate this tissue at a earlier age may increase the overall productivity of the animal,” Arellano said.

This research placed first in the annual ASAS Southern Section Undergraduate Competition. In second place was the abstract “Relationship of prenatal transportation stress with postnatal temperament of Brahman calves,” presented by Brittni Littlejohn from Texas A&M AgriLife Research. In third place was the abstract “Investigating the population structure and genetic diversity of angus cattle,” presented by Rachel Lemcke from Berry College.

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