In several species, including man and the rat, hyperprolactinaemia is associated with suppression of gonadotrophin release and male sexual behaviour. However, in the hyperprolactinaemic male mouse, plasma LH and FSH levels and copulatory behaviour are increased rather than suppressed. In an attempt to identify mechanism(s) which may be responsible for these effects of hyperprolactinaemia in the mouse, we have examined the effects of two ectopic pituitary isografts on several indices of hypothalamic and pituitary function in adult DBA/2J males. Animals with pituitary grafts had markedly increased plasma concentrations of prolactin, LH and FSH and enlarged seminal vesicles, whereas testicular and pituitary weights were not affected. Content of LHRH receptors and activity of aromatase in the pituitary, as well as dopamine-β-hydroxylase activity in the hypothalamus were nearly identical in pituitary-grafted and sham-operated males. Biosynthesis of dopamine and turnover of noradrenaline in the median eminence were significantly increased in grafted males. We suggest that the increase in the activity of hypothalamic noradrenergic neurones may mediate stimulatory action of hyperprolactinaemia on LH and FSH release in the mouse. Comparison of these results with those obtained previously in the rat suggests that species differences in the effects of prolactin on gonadotrophin release may be related to its divergent effects on noradrenaline turnover.
J. Endocr. (1987) 112, 215–220