Ovulation mechanism in South American Camelids: The active role of beta-NGF as the chemical signal eliciting ovulation in llamas and alpacas
- The ovulation-inducing effect of seminal plasma was first suggested in Bactrian camels over 30 years ago, initiating a long search to identify the 'ovulation-inducing factor' (OIF) present in camelids semen. During the last decade, primarily in llamas and alpacas, this molecule has been intensively studied characterizing its biological and chemical properties and ultimately identifying it as beta-Nerve Growth Factor (beta-NGF). The high concentration of OIF/beta-NGF in seminal plasma of llamas and alpacas, and the striking effects of seminal fluid on ovarian function strongly support the notion of an endocrine mode of action. Also, have challenged the dogma of mating induced ovulation in camelid species, questioning the classical definition of reflex ovulators, which at the light of new evidence should be revised and updated. On the other hand, the presence of OIF/beta-NGF and its ovulatory effect in camelids confirm the notion that seminal plasma is not only a transport and survival medium for sperm but also, a signaling agent targeting female tissues after insemination, generating relevant physiological and reproductive consequences. The presence of this molecule, conserved among induced as well as spontaneous ovulating species, clearly suggests that the potential impacts of this reproductive feature extend beyond the camelid species and may have broad implications in mammalian fertility. The aim of the present review is to provide a brief summary of all research efforts undertaken to isolate and identify the ovulation inducing factor present in the seminal plasma of camelids. Also to give an update of the current understanding of the mechanism of action of seminal beta-NGF, at central and ovarian level; finally suggesting possible brain targets for this molecule. (C) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.