Allostasis in Neuroendocrine Systems Controlling ReproductionRodrigo A Carrasco, Kellie M Breen
Allostasis provides a supporting role to the homeostatic control of biological variables in mammalian species. While the concept of homeostasis is related to the control of variables within a set point or range that are essential to life, allostasis refers to systems that facilitate adaptation to challenges that the organism faces and the new requirements for survival. Essential for such adaptation is the role played by the brain in eliciting neural and neuroendocrine responses. Reproductive function is fundamental for the survival of species but is costly in energetic terms and requires a synchrony with an ever-changing environment. Thus, in many species reproductive function is blocked or delayed over immediate challenges. This review will cover the physiological systems and neuroendocrine pathways that supply allostatic control over reproductive neuroendocrine systems. Light, hypoxia, temperature, nutrition, psychosocial, and immune mediators influence the neuroendocrine control of reproductive functions through pathways that are confluent at the paraventricular nucleus; however, understanding of the integrative responses to these stimuli has not been clarified. Likely, the ultimate consequence of these allostatic mechanisms is the modification of kisspeptin and gonadotropin-releasing hormone neuronal activity, thus compromising reproduction function in the short term, while preserving species survivability.