The present study evaluated the effects of chronic GnRH agonist (deslorelin) treatment on sexual maturation in the male tammar wallaby. Slow-release deslorelin or placebo implants were administered to male pouch young (n = 10/group) when they were between 180 and 200 days old, to determine if disruption of the pituitary-testicular axis during development altered the timing of sexual maturation or had long-term effects on adult reproductive function. Deslorelin treatment caused retardation of testicular growth and reduced the serum FSH and testosterone concentrations between 12 and 24 mo of age. Maturation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis was also delayed in treated animals at 13 and 19 mo of age. Despite these alterations in the pattern and timing of neuroendocrine development, sexual maturation was not permanently blocked in these animals and deslorelin-treated animals reached sexual maturity at the same age as treated animals, as evidenced by a fully functional pituitary-testicular axis and proven fertility at 25 mo of age. The ability of the treated animals to reach puberty at the same time as control animals, despite delayed maturation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis, suggests that puberty in the male tammar wallaby is additionally regulated by other, gonadotropin-independent factors.
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Vol. 76 • No. 6