Synopsis Based on research in protochordates and basal vertebrates, we know that communication across the first endocrine axes likely relied on diffusion. Because diffusion is relatively slow, rapid responses to some cues, including stress-related cues, may have required further local control of axis outputs (e.g., steroid hormone production by the gonads). Despite the evolution of much more efficient circulatory systems and complex nervous systems in vertebrates, production of many "neuro"transmitters has been identified outside of the hypothalamus across the vertebrate phylogeny and these neurotransmitters are known to locally regulate endocrine function. Our understanding of tissue-specific neuropeptide expression and their role coordinating physiological/behavioral responses of the whole organism remains limited, in part, due to nomenclature and historic dogma that ignores local regulation of axis output. Here, we review regulation of gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH) across the reproductive axis in birds and mammals to bring further attention to context-dependent disparities and similarities in neuropeptide production by the brain and gonads. We find that GnIH responsiveness to cues of stress appears conserved across species, but that the response of specific tissues and the direction of GnIH regulation varies. The implications of differential regulation across tissues remain unclear in most studies, but further work that manipulates and contrasts function in different tissues has the potential to inform us about both organism-specific function and endocrine axis evolution.
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