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
F Gaytan, C Morales, C Bellido, R Aguilar, Y Millan, J Martin De Las Mulas and JE Sanchez-Criado
Preovulatory surges of both prolactin (PRL) and progesterone have been suggested to be necessary for the induction of apoptosis in the regressing corpus luteum of the cyclic rat. The aim of these experiments was to study whether the administration of PRL and/or progesterone on the morning of pro-oestrus reproduces the regressive changes that happen in the cyclic corpus luteum (CL) during the transition from pro-oestrus to oestrus, and to analyse the temporal relationships between two characteristic features of structural luteolysis (luteal cell apoptosis and accumulation of macrophages). Cyclic rats (treated at 0900 h with an LHRH antagonist to block LH secretion) were injected at 1000 h with PRL and progesterone and killed at 0, 30, 60, 90 and 180 min after treatment. The number of apoptotic cells increased progressively from 60 min after treatment onward in hormone-treated rats, whereas the number of macrophages did not change throughout the period of time considered. Rats injected with PRL plus progesterone showed significantly greater numbers of apoptotic cells than those injected with PRL alone. The luteolytic effects of progesterone were in keeping with the presence of luteal endothelial cells showing progesterone receptor (PR) immunoreactivity in pro-oestrus. Treatment of rats during dioestrus and pro-oestrus with the specific antioestrogens LY117018 and RU58668 decreased the luteolytic effects of PRL and progesterone and the number of luteal endothelial cells immunostained for PR. These results strongly suggest that the preovulatory PRL surge and the preovulatory increase in progesterone together trigger structural regression of the corpus luteum. This seems to be dependent on oestrogen-driven cyclic changes in PRs in luteal endothelial cells.
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.