The selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM) tamoxifen (TX) has agonist/antagonist actions on LH secretion in the rat. Whereas in the absence of oestrogens TX elicits progesterone receptor (PR)-dependent GnRH self-priming, it antagonizes oestrogen-stimulatory action on LH secretion. The aim of these experiments was to explore whether TX treatment-induced differential expression of oestrogen receptor (ER)α and ERβ in the gonadotrope may determine its agonist effect on LH secretion. In the first experiment, basal LH secretion, GnRH-stimulated LH secretion and PR-dependent GnRH self-priming were determined in incubated pituitaries from ovariectomized (OVX) rats treated with oestradiol benzoate (EB), TX or raloxifene (RX). Cycling rats in metoestrus or pro-oestrus were used as basic controls. As in pro-oestrus, pituitaries from OVX rats treated with EB exhibited GnRH-stimulated LH secretion, immunohistochemical PR expression and GnRH self-priming. While RX had no effect on these parameters, TX induced PR expression and GnRH self-priming. GnRH self-priming was absent in pituitaries incubated with the antiprogestin ZK299. In the second experiment, we evaluated the immunohistochemical expression of ERα and ERβ in gonadotropes of cycling rats and OVX rats treated with EB, TX or RX. We found that while ERα expression was similar in all six groups, ERα expression was oestrous cycle dependent. Moreover, ERα expression in gonadotropes of TX-treated rats was as high as that found in pro-oestrus, while ERα expression in the gonadotropes of RX-treated rats was lower than in metoestrous or pro-oestrous pituitaries. These results suggest that, in the absence of the cognate ligand, TX, unlike RX, may regulate LH secretion through the ERα subtype in gonadotropes.
J E Sánchez-Criado, J Martín de las Mulas, C Bellido, R Aguilar and J C Garrido-Gracia
J E Sánchez-Criado, J Martín de las Mulas, C Bellido, V M Navarro, R Aguilar, J C Garrido-Gracia, M M Malagón, M Tena-Sempere and A Blanco
In the rat, oestrogen is a key regulator of gonadotrophin synthesis and release through activation of oestrogen receptors (ERs). Gonadotropes express α and β isoforms of ER and both can activate transcription in response to oestrogen. These experiments were aimed at evaluating the relative contribution of ERα and ERβ on gonadotrope morphology, progesterone receptor (PR) expression and LH secretion. Ovariectomized rats were daily injected over 3 days with 25 μg oestradiol benzoate, 0.3 or 1.5 mg of the selective ERα agonist propylpyrazole triol (PPT) with or without 1.5, 3.0 or 4.5 mg of the selective ERβ agonist diarylpropionitrile (DPN), DPN alone, and 0.3 or 3 mg of tamoxifen. Controls were given 0.2 ml oil. Serum concentration and pituitary content of LH, gonadotrope PR expression, pituitary PR content, and gonadotrope morphology were analyzed by RIA, immunohistochemistry, Western blotting and light and electron microscopy, respectively. Results showed that PPT reversed all consequences of ovariectomy, DPN mimicked the effects of PPT except for its LH-releasing action and tamoxifen had ERα-like responses. When combined with PPT, DPN attenuated ERα effects without interfering with its LH-releasing activity. Oestradiol benzoate had similar effects to those of combined PPT and DPN. It is suggested that (i) the structural reorganization of the cytoplasmic organelles provided by oestrogen, and the shrinkage of the ovariectomy-induced hypertrophy of gonadotropes, which precedes the expression of PR, are evoked by ERα and modulated, in a ying–yang fashion, by ERβ; and (ii) the oestrogen-dependent exocytosis of LH, the final step in the secretory process, is dependent on ERα exclusively.