Successful reproduction is strictly linked to metabolic cues. The orexins are a family of hypothalamic neurohormones, well known for their key role in the control of food intake and the involvement in several aspects of the reproductive process. The biological actions of both orexins are carried out through binding to the related Orexin 1 (OX1R) and Orexin 2 (OX2R) G-protein coupled receptors. The purpose of this study was to investigate the presence of orexin system components in the porcine ovaries, in order to contribute to expand the knowledge about their pleiotropic role. Firstly, we investigated the localization of orexin A (OXA) and its receptors by immunochemistry in different ovarian districts. Thereafter, we evaluated the expression of the prepro-orexin gene and OXA effects on granulosa cell functions. Immunohistochemical study revealed the presence of orexinergic system components in porcine ovarian follicles. Moreover, our data show the expression of prepro-orexin mRNA in swine ovarian follicles > 5 mm. In addition, OXA influences proliferation (P < 0.05), steroidogenic activity (P < 0.05) and redox status of granulosa cells (P < 0.05). Therefore, we hypothesize that OXA could exert a local physiological role in swine ovarian follicles even if further studies are required in order to deeply define the function of this pleiotropic system.
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