Deakin University

File(s) under permanent embargo

Susceptibility of reproduction in female pigs to impairment by stress and the role of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis

journal contribution
posted on 2002-01-01, 00:00 authored by Anne TurnerAnne Turner, P H Hemsworth, A J Tilbrooka
Although it is generally considered that stress can impair reproduction, we suggest that the impact of acute or repeated acute stress or acute or repeated acute elevations of cortisol are of little consequence in female pigs, even if these occur during the series of endocrine events that induce oestrus and ovulation. It is important to understand the impact of acute stress on reproduction because, in the intensive production of livestock, animals are often subjected to short-term challenges. There seems little doubt that reproduction in a proportion of female pigs is susceptible to impairment by severe and prolonged stress or the sustained elevation of cortisol but only when this continues for a substantial period. In female pigs, where reproduction is susceptible to impairment by severe prolonged stress, it is possible that the mediators of this suppression are cortisol, corticotrophin-releasing factor and vasopressin but, in pigs, there is evidence to suggest that adrenocorticotrophic hormone is not involved. Other substances secreted during stress may be involved but these are not considered in this review. It is possible that the mediators of stress act at any level of the hypothalamo-pituitary-ovarian axis. Although a variety of experimental manipulations have provided potential mediators and mechanisms for the stress-induced suppression of reproduction, these experimental manipulations rarely represented physiological circumstances so it is not clear if such mechanisms would be important in a physiological context. The precise mediators and mechanisms by which hormones released during stress may inhibit reproductive processes during severe prolonged stress are yet to be determined.



Reproduction, fertility and development






377 - 391




Melbourne, Vic.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2002, CSIRO