Dr Julie Townsend

Paracrine mechanisms underlying the intra-pituitary regulation of fertility


Investigations on the intra-pituitary control of fertility, with particular reference to the role of the associations between gonadotroph, lactotroph and folliculostellate cells in seasonally breeding species.

Investigations on prolactin action within the brain: how this may regulate the activity of neuronal circuits involved in the control of fertility.

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Current projects include:

  • Signal transduction pathways and neuronal mechanisms underlying the central effects of PRL on the control of fertility.
  • Intra-pituitary fertility control.

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Possible future projects and direction of research:

Jetlag in the horse: Neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying the effects of transmeridian flying on equine performance.

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Diseases related to this field of research

  • Infertility
  • Hyperprolactinaemia leading to infertility

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Processes and functions relevant to this work

  • Reproduction
  • Fertility
  • Circadian rhythms

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Techniques in routine use

  • Cell culture
  • DNA cloning
  • RNA extractions
  • RT-PCR
  • Northern analysis
  • Westerns
  • In situ hybridisation
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Radioimmunoassay

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Equipment in routine use

  • Fluorescence microscope
  • PCR machines

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Grants and funding

  • 2002 Royal Society Research Grant
  • 2002 Department of Anatomy Research Grant for UWE placement student.
  • To be submitted in 2004: Horserace Betting Levy Board Research grant

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  • Dr Michael Norman, LINE, University of Bristol. Dr Jon Wakerley, Anatomy, University of Bristol
  • Dr Allison Fulford, Anatomy, University of Bristol
  • Dr Kate Whittington, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Bristol
  • Professor Malcolm Brown, Anatomy, University of Bristol
  • Professor Alan McNeilly, MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, Edinburgh, UK.

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  • Neuroendocrinology and fertility regulation (3rd year Anatomical Science)
  • Reproduction (2nd year Equine Science)
  • Endocrinology and reproduction (2nd year Anatomical Science)
  • Hypothalamus and pituitary (2nd year Medicine)
  • Hypothalus and pituitary (MSc Reproduction and Development)

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Members of the group

Miss Helen Henderson

Publications, recommended reading and further information

  • Meeran D, Urbanski HF, Gregory SL, Townsend J, and Tortonese DJ (2003). Developmental changes in the hormonal identity of gonadotroph cells in the rhesus monkey pituitary gland. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 88:2934-2942.
  • Tortonese DJ, Gregory SJ, Eagle RC, Sneddon CL, Young CL and Townsend J (2001). The equine hypophysis: A gland for all seasons. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 13:591-597.

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