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L. Pinilla, F. J. López and E. Aguilar


Pituitary responsiveness to GHRH (1-29) NH2 (GHRH, 5 μg/kg iv) was analysed under sodium pentobarbital anesthesia (50 mg/kg ip), on days 30 and 90 in male rats orchidectomized or sham-operated 7 days earlier. Other groups of rats were orchidectomized or shamoperated on day 23 and tested on days 30, 45, 60 and 90. In the sham-operated animals, GHRH stimulated GH secretion on day 90, but not on day 30. GHRH-induced secretion was similar on days 45, 60 and 90 in orchidectomized and sham-operated animals. Orchidectomy on day 83 reduced this GHRH-induced GH secretion on day 90. In contrast, orchidectomy on day 23 enhanced the pituitary responsiveness to GHRH a week later. These results suggest that the increase in pituitary responsiveness to GHRH with age is independent of the testicular function and that the effect of orchidectomy depends on both the age of the rats at orchidectomy and the time elapsed between the orchidectomy and the administration of GHRH.

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E Trimiño, L Pinilla and E Aguilar

We have analyzed the mechanisms involved in ovarian failure after administration of gonadotropin hormone-releasing hormone agonists (GnRH-A) or antagonists (GnRH-ANT). Ovarian and uterine weights, serum concentrations of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and estradiol and pituitary FSH and LH contents were measured in Wistar female rats injected from 1–15 or 90–104 days of age with the agonist d-Ala6-d-Gly10-GnRH or the GnRH-ANT Org. 30276. Vaginal opening, first estrous presentation, vaginal smears and reproductive capacity were also analyzed. In both neonatal and adult females GnRH-A induced pituitary desensitization and reduced ovarian and uterine weights and estradiol serum concentrations. Therefore, serum gonadotropin concentrations were increased in adults and decreased in neonatal females. Puberty occurrence and reproductive function remain unaltered after neonatal treatment with GnRH-A. In neonatal females, FSH and LH pituitary content and FSH serum concentrations decreased at the end of treatment with GnRH-ANT. The effects on LH and estradiol secretion depended on the pattern of treatment. Interestingly enough, both vaginal opening and first estrous presentation were precipitated by GnRH-ANT administration. Normal reproductive function was observed in adults. We conclude that:

(i) pituitary desensitization of receptors occurred in both neonatal and adult females after chronic administration of GnRH-A;

(ii) the ovarian failure observed in adults that is accompanied by increased serum concentrations of gonadotropins was probably due to an inhibitory effect of GnRH-A directly on the ovaries;

(iii) the blockade of GnRH action shortly after birth with GnRH-ANT precipitated the onset of puberty; possibly the antagonist blocks some suppressive effects of endogenous LHRH;

(iv) the effects of neonatal administration of GnRH-A or GnRH-ANT were transitory.

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M Tena-Sempere, L Pinilla and E Aguilar

Tena-Sempere M, Pinilla L, Aguilar E. Orchidectomy selectively increases follicle-stimulating hormone secretion in gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist-treated male rats. Eur J Endocrinol 1995;132: 357–62. ISSN 0804–4643

The pituitary component of the feedback mechanisms exerted by testicular factors on gonadotropin secretion was analyzed in adult male rats treated with a potent gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist. In order to discriminate between androgens and testicular peptides, groups of males were orchidectomized (to eliminate androgens and non-androgenic testicular factors) or injected with ethylene dimethane sulfonate (EDS), a selective toxin for Leydig cells (to eliminate selectively androgens) and treated for 15 days with vehicle or the GnRH antagonist Ac-d-pClPhe-d-pClPhe-d-TrpSer-Tyr-d-Arg-Leu-Arg-Pro-d-Ala-NH2CH3COOH (Org.30276, 5 mg/kg/72 hours). Serum concentrations of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) were measured 7 and 14 days after the beginning of treatment. We found that: in males treated with GnRH antagonist, orchidectomy or EDS treatment did not induce any increase in LH secretion; and orchidectomy, but not EDS treatment, increased FSH secretion in GnRH-treated males. The present results show that negative feedback of testicular factors on LH secretion is mediated completely through changes in GnRH actions. In contrast, a part of the inhibitory action of the testis on FSH secretion is exerted directly at the pituitary level. It can be hypothesized that non-Leydig cell testicular factor(s) inputs at different levels of the hypothalamic–pituitary axis in controlling LH and FSH secretion.

Manuel Tena-Sempere, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Córdoba, 14004 Córdoba, Spain

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E Aguilar, M Tena-Sempere and L Pinilla

The effect of different androgens and estradiol on pituitary responsiveness to growth hormone releasing hormone was studied in intact and orchidectomized adult male Wistar rats, by injecting subcutaneously immediately after orchidectomy for two weeks with testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, 5-α androstane, 3-α, 17 β-diol or estradiol dissolved in olive oil (in doses of 0.2 or 2.0 mg·kg−1·day−1) or vehicle. Pituitary responsiveness was tested in pentobarbital anaesthetized rats by measuring growth hormone plasma levels at different times after administration of growth hormone releasing hormone (1-29) NH2. We found that: (a) High doses of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and 5-α androstane, 3α, 1 7 β-diol restored gonadotropin plasma concentrations and organ weights altered by orchidectomy; (b) both pituitary growth hormone content and concentration remained unaffected after orchidectomy or androgen replacement and decreased significantly after estradiol injection; (c) orchidectomy significantly reduced growth hormone-stimulated growth hormone releasing hormone secretion; (d) treatment with 5-α androstane, 3-α, 1 7 β-diol increased more than testosterone or dihydrotestosterone both the peak concentration and the mean growth hormone secretion after growth hormone releasing hormone stimulation: (e) no differences were observed in the treatment with testosterone or dihydrotestosterone; (f) estradiol given at a dose of 0.2 mg·kg−1·day−1 increased pituitary responsiveness to growth hormone releasing hormone. These results demonstrated that testosterone and 5-α androstane, 3-α, 17 β-diol, which do not differ in their action on pituitary growth hormone content, increased the pituitary responsiveness to growth hormone releasing hormone differently and that the low pituitary responsiveness to growth hormone releasing hormone previously described in prepubertal animals was not due mainly to the secretion of 5-α androstane, 3-α, 1 7 β-diol.

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L Pinilla, LC Gonzalez, M Tena-Sempere and E Aguilar

OBJECTIVE: Excitatory amino acids, gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), serotonin and catecholamines are involved in the control of GH secretion. The actions of these neurotransmitters are interconnected, and recently we showed that the stimulatory effect of GABA was blocked by MK-801, an antagonist of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors. The present experiments were carried out to analyze the interrelationships between +/- -alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptors and serotoninergic and catecholaminergic pathways in the control of GH secretion in prepubertal (16-23-day-old) male rats. DESIGN AND METHODS: The GH response to AMPA was analyzed in animals pretreated with 5-hydroxytryptophan methyl ester (5-HTP) plus fluoxetine (a precursor of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) synthesis and a blocker of 5-HT re-uptake), R (+)-8-hydroxydipropylaminotetralin hydrobromide (8-OH-DPAT, an agonist of the 5-HT1 receptors), +/- -2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine hydrochloride (DOI) and alpha-methyl-5-hydroxytryptamine (agonists of 5-HT2 receptors), I-phenylbiguanide (an agonist of 5-HT3 receptors), or alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine (alpha-MPT) and diethyldithiocarbamate (DDC) (blockers of catecholamine synthesis). RESULTS: Basal GH secretion remained unchanged in prepubertal rats after activation of the serotoninergic system or blockade of catecholamine synthesis. The stimulatory effect of AMPA on GH secretion was blocked after activation of the serotoninergic system, through specific 5-HT1 and 5-HT2 receptor agonists. In contrast, activation of 5-HT3 receptors potentiated AMPA-stimulated GH secretion. CONCLUSIONS: Serotoninergic receptors modulate the stimulatory effect of AMPA on GH secretion in prepubertal male rats.

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M Tena-Sempere, ML Barreiro, E Aguilar and L Pinilla

OBJECTIVE: Raloxifene is a non-steroidal selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that mimics estrogenic activity on bone density and blood lipid concentration without uterotropic actions. Previous data from our laboratory indicated that, as is the case for estrogen, neonatal administration of raloxifene disturbed normal differentiation of the hypothalamic circuitries governing the gonadotropic axis. In contrast, raloxifene did not act in the same way as estrogen does on the neuronal systems controlling sexual receptivity in the female rat. At present, however, the mechanisms for these organizing effects of raloxifene are not completely elucidated. DESIGN AND METHODS: To analyze this phenomenon, female rats were injected daily with raloxifene (50, 100, 250 or 500 microg/rat per day) between days 1 and 5 of age. On day 23, hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (LHRH) mRNA expression was assessed, and pituitary and plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels were measured in basal and LHRH-stimulated conditions. In addition, LH and FSH responses to ovariectomy were evaluated in raloxifene-treated females. Finally, we monitored the ability of neonatal administration of a potent LHRH agonist ([d-Ala(6),d-Gly(10)]-LHRH ethylamide; 0.01 microg/kg per 12 h on days 1-5) to counteract the effects of raloxifene. RESULTS: Our analyses demonstrated that prepubertal rats (23-day-old females) treated neonatally with raloxifene showed decreased hypothalamic LHRH mRNA expression levels, reduced pituitary content of LH and FSH, reduced basal and LHRH-stimulated LH secretion in vivo and in vitro, and decreased response to ovariectomy. In addition, adult females treated neonatally with raloxifene showed anovulation and reduced serum LH levels; these effects were not prevented by the simultaneous administration of a LHRH agonist. CONCLUSION: In conclusion, our data demonstrate that neonatal administration of raloxifene can disrupt the programming of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis function. Reduced LH secretion, under basal and LHRH-stimulated conditions and after ovariectomy, is probably related to decreased LHRH expression, reduced pituitary LH content and/or decreased pituitary responsiveness to hypothalamic LHRH.

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L Pinilla, LC Gonzalez, M Tena-Sempere and E Aguilar

OBJECTIVE: Excitatory amino acids and serotonin are involved in the control of gonadotropin secretion. The actions of these neurotransmitters are interconnected and recently we have reported that 5-HT(1) and 5-HT(2) receptor agonists blunted (+/-)-alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA)-stimulated GH secretion in prepubertal rats. The present experiments were carried out to analyze the effects of activation of different 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptor subtypes on gonadotropin secretion and their role in the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)-stimulated LH release. DESIGN AND METHODS: We analyzed the gonadotropin secretion after manipulation of serotoninergic and aminoacidergic systems and their interactions in 5-, 16- and 23-day-old male and female rats. To this end, serum LH and FSH concentrations were measured in rats treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan methyl ester (5-HTP) (a precursor of 5-HT synthesis) plus Fluoxetine (Fx, a blocker of 5-HT reuptake), d,l-p-chlorophenyl-alanine methyl ester (PCPA, a blocker of 5-HT synthesis), R-(+)-8-hydroxydipropylaminotetralin hydrobromide (8-OH-DPAT, an agonist of 5-HT(1A) receptors), (+/-)-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine hydrochloride (DOI) and alpha-methyl-5-hydroxytryptamine (alpha-Me-5-HT, agonists of 5-HT(2) receptors), and 1-Phenylbiguanide (1-PHE an agonist of 5-HT(3) receptors). In addition, the effects of 8-OH-DPAT and DOI on NMDA-stimulated LH secretion were analyzed. RESULTS: Neither the activation nor blockade of the serotoninergic system modified LH secretion. Basal gonadotropin secretion remained unchanged in 23-day-old male and female rats after activation of 5-HT(1A), 5-HT(2) and 5-HT(3) receptors. The stimulatory effect of NMDA on LH secretion was blocked in both sexes after activation of the serotoninergic system, through specific 5-HT(1) and 5-HT(2) receptor agonists. CONCLUSIONS: Activation of serotoninergic receptors decreased the stimulatory effect of NMDA on LH secretion in prepubertal male and female rats.

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ML Barreiro, L Pinilla, E Aguilar and M Tena-Sempere

OBJECTIVE: GH secretagogues (GHSs) elicit a variety of biological effects in several endocrine and non-endocrine target tIssues, including activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The latter is mainly carried out through a central hypothalamic action; yet the possibility of additional effects directly at the adrenal level cannot be ruled out. The aims of this study were to evaluate the expression and homologous regulation of the GHS-receptor (GHS-R) gene in rat adrenal and to assess the effects of synthetic (GH releasing peptide-6 - GHRP-6) and natural (ghrelin) ligands of GHS-R upon basal and ACTH-stimulated corticosterone secretion in vitro. DESIGN AND METHODS: Analysis of adrenal expression of target mRNAs (GHS-R, GHS-R1a, ghrelin, and several steroidogenic factors) was conducted by means of primer-specific, semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Evaluation of corticosterone secretion by incubated adrenal tIssue was carried out by specific RIA. RESULTS: RT-PCR analysis demonstrated expression of the GHS-R gene, but not of the gene encoding the cognate ligand ghrelin, in rat adrenal. Moreover, expression of the mRNA coding for the type 1a GHS-R (GHS-R1a), i.e. the biologically active receptor form, was demonstrated. The adrenal expression of the GHS-R message appeared under the regulation of homologous signals in vitro, as short-term incubation of adrenal samples in serum-free medium induced a significant increase in GHS-R mRNA levels that was inhibited by exposure to different doses of GHRP-6 (10(-9)-10(-5) mol/l) or ghrelin (10(-7) mol/l). Notably, an opposite pattern of homologous regulation of GHS-R gene expression was observed at the pituitary. Finally, short-term stimulation with increasing concentrations of GHRP-6 (10(-9)-10(-5) mol/l) or ghrelin (10(-7) mol/l) failed to alter basal and ACTH-stimulated corticosterone secretion in vitro, neither did it modify ACTH-stimulated mRNA expression levels of several upstream elements in the steroidogenic route: the steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein, and the enzymes P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage (P450scc) and 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3beta-HSD). CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides novel evidence for the expression and homologous regulation of the GHS-R gene in rat adrenal. However, our results cast doubts on the possibility of direct adrenal actions of ligands of the GHS-R in the regulation of corticosterone secretion in the rat.

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L Pinilla, M Tena-Sempere, R Aguilar and E Aguilar

OBJECTIVE: The stimulatory and inhibitory effects of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) and kainic acid on prolactin (PRL) secretion have been correlated with the serum prolactin concentrations before drug administration. In the present experiments, we analysed the role of NMDA and kainic acid in PRL secretion in females with different serum concentrations of PRL. METHODS: Hypoprolactinaemic females were obtained by ovariectomy or after administration of diethyldithiocarbamate (an inhibitor of dopamine-beta-hydroxylase). Chronic hyperprolactinaemia was induced by neonatal administration of testosterone or oestradiol and acute hyperprolactinaemia was induced either by administration of alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine (an inhibitor of tyrosine hydroxylase) or by ether exposure. To analyse the role of dopamine in the effects of NMDA, we measured pituitary concentrations of dopamine after NMDA treatment and the effects of pretreatment with domperidone. RESULTS: (1) NMDA, but not kainic acid, stimulated PRL release in cyclic females. This effect was independent of serum PRL concentrations and was not accompanied by a decrease in pituitary concentrations of dopamine. (2) NMDA did not change PRL secretion in neonatally androgenized females, whereas NMDA and kainic acid inhibited PRL release in neonatally oestrogenized females. The inhibitory effects of NMDA and kainic acid were blocked by domperidone. (3) Kainic acid inhibited PRL secretion in prepubertal hyper- and hypoprolactinaemic rats. (4) Hyperprolactinaemia induced by ether stress was counteracted by administration of NMDA and kainic acid. CONCLUSIONS: (a) NMDA has a dual effect on prolactin secretion that is independent of prior prolactin concentrations and of dopamine activity, but kainic acid is only inhibitory. (b) The stimulatory or inhibitory effects of NMDA and kainic acid on PRL secretion were not strictly related to basal PRL concentrations and necessarily involved a change in the secretion of prolactin releasing factors, as no correlations were observed between changes in pituitary concentrations of dopamine and serum PRL concentrations. (c) Females rendered hyperprolactinaemic by neonatal administration of testosterone or oestradiol responded differently after NMDA administration. (d) NMDA and kainic acid blocked the mechanisms involved in stress-induced PRL secretion.

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L Pinilla, LM Seoane, L Gonzalez, E Carro, E Aguilar, FF Casanueva and C Dieguez

The aim of this study was to investigate the regulation of serum leptin levels by gender and gonadal steroid milieu. Thus, we measured serum leptin levels by radioimmunoassay in (a) intact male and female rats, (b) female rats at different stages of the estrous cycle and (c) ovariectomized or orchidectomized rats. Gonadectomized groups were or were not implanted with silastic capsules (10 or 30 mm in length, 1.519mm internal diameter; 3.06 mm external diameter) containing estradiol or testosterone and decapitated two weeks later. We found (i) intact female rats weighing 50 g, 250 g and 300 g exhibited higher serum leptin concentrations than intact male rats of similar body weight; (ii) leptin concentrations were not affected by the phase of the estrous cycle; (iii) two weeks after gonadectomy serum leptin concentrations increased in both male (from 4.47+/-1.87 to 8.76+/-1.24 ng/ml) and female (from 1.97+/-0.46 to 5.29+/-0.51 ng/ml) rats. The ovariectomy-induced increase in serum leptin levels was not dependent, at least completely, on changes in body weight since it could be observed when comparisons were made between ovariectomized rats and intact rats in estrus matched for body weight. In contrast the effect of orchidectomy on serum leptin levels appears to be dependent on changes in body weight since it was no longer observed when comparisons were made with a group of intact male rats matched for body weight. In conclusion, these results suggest that serum leptin concentrations are controlled by gonadal function either directly or as a consequence of changes in body weight.