Neuropeptidergic and Neuroendocrine Systems Underlying Eusociality and the Concomitant Social Regulation of Reproduction in Naked Mole-Rats: A Comparative Approach

Clive W. Coen*, Nigel C. Bennett, Melissa M. Holmes, Christopher G. Faulkes

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The African mole-rat family (Bathyergidae) includes the first mammalian species identified as eusocial: naked mole-rats. Comparative studies of eusocial and solitary mole-rat species have identified differences in neuropeptidergic systems that may underlie the phenomenon of eusociality. These differences are found in the oxytocin, vasopressin and corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) systems within the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and lateral septal nucleus. As a corollary of their eusociality, most naked mole-rats remain pre-pubertal throughout life because of the presence of the colony’s only reproductive female, the queen. To elucidate the neuroendocrine mechanisms that mediate this social regulation of reproduction, research on the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis in naked mole-rats has identified differences between the many individuals that are reproductively suppressed and the few that are reproductively mature: the queen and her male consorts. These differences involve gonadal steroids, gonadotrophin-releasing hormone-1 (GnRH-1), kisspeptin, gonadotrophin-inhibitory hormone/RFamide-related peptide-3 (GnIH/RFRP-3) and prolactin. The comparative findings in eusocial and solitary mole-rat species are assessed with reference to a broad range of studies on other mammals.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
    PublisherSPRINGER
    Pages59-103
    Number of pages45
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Publication series

    NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
    Volume1319
    ISSN (Print)0065-2598
    ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019

    Keywords

    • Amygdala
    • Bathyergidae
    • Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis
    • Cape mole-rats
    • Corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF)
    • Eusociality
    • Gonadal steroids
    • Gonadotrophin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH)
    • Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone-1 (GnRH-1)
    • Hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis
    • Kisspeptin
    • Lateral septal nucleus
    • Naked mole-rats
    • Nucleus accumbens
    • Oxytocin
    • Prolactin
    • RFamide-related peptide-3 (RFRP-3)
    • Social regulation of reproduction
    • Sociality
    • Urocortin
    • Vasopressin

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