The preoptic area of the hypothalamus is a key area that produces gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH). In birds, the chicken GnRH-I-form neurons are responsible for the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal system, which controls reproduction. In the ring dove, electrolytic lesion in the adult hypothalamus induces neurogenesis. In this study, we determined whether adult neurogenesis is involved in repairing GnRH neurons, specifically by generating newborn cells exhibiting GnRH-I immunoreactive properties. We selectively applied electrolytic lesions to three different regions of the diencephalon, including the preoptic area, which contains GnRH-I neurons, and identified new cells (BrdU-positive cells) that co-labeled with GnRH-I-immunoreactive cells. The BrdU(+)/GnRH(+) double labeled cells were then confirmed with confocal laser analysis. In brains of both male and female ring doves we found new neurons at the lesion site of the preoptic region that were GnRH-I immunoreactive. However, the total number of GnRH neurons in the lesioned brains was less than that of sham-lesioned brains. When two other regions of the diencephalon that contain GnRH-I neurons were damaged, no recruitment of new GnRH-I neurons was detected. The rate of neurogenesis depends on the bird's reproductive phase when the lesion was applied. We found BrdU(+)/GnRH(+) double-labeled cells almost exclusively during the pre-laying phase when birds are engaged in active courtship that leads to egg laying. Our observations suggest that recruitment of GnRH immunoreactive new neurons is restricted to the hypothalamic region and is sensitive to the reproductive stage of the birds.
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