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Preovulatory LH surges were studied in rats with ovarian cycles of 4 days (4d-rats) and 5 days (5d-rats). In 5d-rats the maximal peak height was about twice that observed in 4d-rats, whereas in 4d-rats peaks occurred about 1·5 h later than in 5d-rats and were much less consistently timed.

From experiments in which LH releasing hormone (LH-RH) was infused into pentobarbitone-blocked pro-oestrous rats, it was concluded that (a) differences between the two types of preovulatory LH surges originate within the central nervous system, and (b) prooestrous LH-RH secretion may not be restricted to the period in which increased LH levels in blood were found, but may exceed this period for a considerable time.

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D. W. Koppenaal, A. M. I. Tijssen and J. de Koning


The present study was designed to explore further the functional antagonism between gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and the ovarian factor, gonadotrophin surge-inhibiting factor (GnSIF). In all experiments, pituitary tissue was exposed to various amounts of GnSIF, after which the self-priming action of GnRH was studied. GnSIF was increased in vivo by FSH treatment and increased in vitro by adding various amounts of follicular fluid (FF) to cultured pituitary cells.

Treatment with 3 or 10 IU FSH suppressed the initial LH response and delayed the maximally primed LH response to GnRH. Treatment with FSH was only effective in intact rats on days 1 and 2 of dioestrus. There was no difference in the rate of maximal LH release irrespective of treatment with either FSH or saline. Since FSH treatment was ineffective in long-term ovariectomized rats, it was concluded that the initial suppressive effect of FSH on LH release was mediated by GnSIF.

Cycloheximide prevented the self-priming action of GnRH by inhibiting GnRH-induced protein synthesis. The initial protein synthesis-independent GnRH-stimulated LH release, which was already suppressed by FSH treatment, remained suppressed in the presence of cycloheximide. Pretreatment with GnRH in vivo increased the protein synthesis-independent GnRH-induced LH release during subsequent incubation of the glands. This increase did not occur after FSH treatment.

Pituitary cells, cultured for 20 h in medium only, failed to elicit the self-priming effect of GnRH. Preincubation with FF maintained the self-priming effect. This was independent of the concomitant presence of various amounts of oestradiol. Preincubation with bovine FF suppressed the initial GnRH-stimulated LH release dose-dependently. Porcine FF, human FF and testicular extract suppressed the release of LH in a similar way.

It was concluded that GnSIF suppresses the initial LH response to continuous GnRH stimulation. Increased levels of GnSIF caused by FSH treatment also delayed the primed LH release. The mechanism of functional antagonism between GnSIF and GnRH could give rise to the occurrence of the phenomenon of GnRH self-priming.

Journal of Endocrinology (1992) 134, 427–436

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W. J. de Greef, J. de Koning, A. M. I. Tijssen and B. Karels


Treatment of ovariectomized rats with 50 μg oestradiol benzoate, followed by 20 μg oestradiol benzoate 3 days later, induced surges of LH and FSH on the day following the second injection with oestradiol benzoate. During this surge of gonadotrophins, which was not blocked by the anaesthetic required to collect hypophysial stalk blood, increased hypophysial stalk plasma levels of immunoreactive LHRH were noted. Furthermore, the levels of LHRH in hypophysial portal blood were found to fluctuate. Measurement of LHRH in a pool of portal plasma revealed similar results when determined by radioimmunoassay and by a sensitive in-vitro bioassay.

To mimic the observed release of LHRH during the surge of gonadotrophins, LHRH was infused, either systemically or directly into a long portal vessel, into oestrogen-treated, ovariectomized rats which had their endogenous release of LHRH blocked by pentobarbitone. An infusion of LHRH into the jugular vein, resulting in peripheral levels of LHRH which were somewhat lower than those measured in hypophysial stalk plasma, caused a surge of FSH similar to that found in rats used for collection of hypophysial stalk blood. When compared with the values in the latter animals, however, the levels of LH became two to four times higher by this infusion of LHRH. When LHRH was infused directly into a long portal vessel to mimic the observed secretion rate of LHRH during the oestrogen-stimulated surge of gonadotrophins, then the surges of LH and FSH were lower than those observed in the rats used for collection of stalk blood.

J. Endocr. (1987) 112, 351–359

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W. J. de Greef, F. H. de Jong, J. de Koning, J. Steenbergen and P. D. M. van der Vaart

Steroid-free bovine follicular fluid (bFF) selectively suppresses the plasma levels of FSH in the female rat, demonstrating that bFF contains inhibin-like material. The present study was concerned with the effects of bFF on the hypothalamic release of LH releasing hormone (LH-RH) into hypophysial stalk blood and on the metabolic clearance rates of gonadotrophins.

The metabolic clearance rates of FSH, LH and prolactin were determined after a single injection of and during a constant infusion with adenohypophysial extract. Similar results were obtained with both methods, and treatment with bFF did not alter the metabolic clearance rates of FSH, LH and prolactin.

Anaesthesia with urethane, used for surgery involved in the collection of hypophysial stalk blood, did not interfere with the effect of bFF on plasma levels of FSH. The administration of bFF did not change the hypothalamic content of LH-RH, but caused a 30% decrease in the levels of LH-RH in hypophysial stalk plasma. However, a fraction isolated from bFF, which contained 20 times more inhibin-like activity per mg protein than bFF, did not alter the hypothalamic release of LH-RH into the hypophysial portal blood while this fraction was effective in specifically suppressing the plasma levels of FSH.

It was concluded that the inhibin-like activity in bFF does not suppress the plasma levels of FSH by affecting its plasma clearance or by influencing the hypothalamic release of LH-RH, but that it has a direct effect on the adenohypophysis in inhibiting the release of FSH. Besides the inhibin-like activity, bFF also contains another factor which can decrease the levels of LH-RH in hypophysial stalk plasma.

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M P Carey, C H Deterd, J de Koning, F Helmerhorst and E R de Kloet


The present study examined the association between hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axes. HPA activity determined by plasma levels of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and corticosterone (B) was assessed in intact female rats as a function of oestrous cycle stage under resting conditions and after exposure to a 20 min restraint stress. To delineate the roles of oestradiol and progesterone in HPA axis modulation, plasma concentrations of ACTH and B were determined in ovariectomised (OVX) animals treated with oestradiol and/or progesterone under resting conditions and during exposure to the stress of a novel environment. The effects of these steroid treatments on the transcription and/or binding properties of the two corticosteroid receptors, the mineralocorticoid (MR) and glucocorticoid (GR) receptors, were also examined in hippocampal tissue. (i) Fluctuations in basal and stress-induced plasma ACTH and B concentrations were found during the oestrous cycle with highest levels at late pro-oestrus. (ii) In OVX steroid-replaced animals, basal and stress-induced activity was enhanced in oestradiol and oestradiol plus progesterone-treated animals compared with OVX controls. (iii) Cytosol binding assays revealed an oestradiol-induced decrease in hippocampal MR capacity. This decrease appears to be due to an effect of the steroid on MR transcription as in situ hybridisation analysis of MR mRNA showed an oestradiol-induced decrease in MR transcript in all hippocampal subfields. (iv) Treatment of oestradiol-primed animals with progesterone reversed the oestradiol-induced decrease in hippocampal MR capacity. Data from MR mRNA hybridisation in situ experiments indicate that this reversal may be due to an antagonism of the oestradiol effect on MR transcription. (v) Progesterone treatment with or without prior oestradiol-priming induced a significant decrease in the apparent binding affinity of hippocampal MR. We show that progesterone and its 11 β-hydroxylated derivative have a high affinity for the hippocampal MR. (vi) Neither oestradiol nor progesterone affected GR binding parameters in the hippocampus. In conclusion, we find that sex steroids modulate HPA activity and suggest that the observed effects of these steroids on hippocampal MR may underlie their concerted mechanism of action in inducing an enhanced activity at the period of late pro-oestrus.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 144, 311–321

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Leiden University Medical Centre, Department of Pharmacology, Wassenaarseweg 72, 2333-AL Leiden, The Netherlands

(Received 17 November 1977)

The mechanism by which oestrogen can augment the pituitary response to luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LH-RH) is unknown. A number of studies have suggested that at least part of the action of LH-RH is mediated by cyclic AMP (Ratner, 1970; Borgeat, Chavancy, Dupont, Labrie, Arimura & Schally, 1972; Makino, 1973; Beaulieu, Labrie, Coy, Coy & Schally, 1975). In preliminary experiments we found that the combination of 1 mm-N 6-monobutyryl cyclic AMP plus 10 mm-theophylline showed maximum activity in causing the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary glands of intact dioestrous rats in vitro, although it only mimicked the action of a relatively low concentration of LH-RH (0·1 ng/ml). We decided to investigate whether the release of LH induced by this combination of monobutyryl cyclic AMP and theophylline could also be augmented by

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The refractoriness of LH release by pituitary glands from intact female rats was studied during stimulation by luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LH-RH), monobutyryl cyclic AMP+theophylline or potassium in vitro. Various concentrations of LH-RH (0·1, 0·3 and 10 ng/ml) all caused refractoriness within 24 h. Subsequent exposure to a supramaximally active concentration of LH-RH for 6 h also resulted in a depressed response; the degree of inhibition depended on the concentration of LH-RH to which the glands had been exposed previously. Glands made refractory to LH-RH also showed a depressed response to monobutyryl cyclic AMP+theophylline, although these agents by themselves were unable to induce refractoriness. Incubation in medium containing a high concentration of potassium also resulted in the release of LH, which in all respects was similar to that caused by LH-RH. Glands made refractory to LH-RH showed a decreased response to potassium and, conversely, the release of LH in response to LH-RH was reduced after exposure of glands to potassium.

It is concluded that the LH releasing activity of LH-RH, which is mimicked by potassium, deteriorates during continuous exposure to the secretagogue.

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D. W. Koppenaal, J. A. M. J. van Dieten, A. M. I. Tijssen and J. de Koning


This study was designed to explore the efficacy of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to antagonize the effect of gonadotrophin surgeinhibiting factor (GnSIF) on the timing of the induction by GnRH of the maximal self-priming effect on pituitary LH responsiveness. The GnSIF levels were increased by FSH treatment and reduced after gonadectomy.

Female rats were injected s.c. with 10 IU FSH or saline (control) on three occasions during the 4-day cycle. Serial i.v. injections of GnRH (500 pmol/kg body weight) were administered to intact rats on the afternoon of pro-oestrus or 15–30 min after ovariectomy. Intact male rats were given 10 IU FSH and 500 or 2000 pmol GnRH/kg body weight on an equivalent time-schedule. Endogenous GnRH release was suppressed with phenobarbital.

In intact female control rats, the timing of the maximally primed LH response was delayed as the GnRH pulse-interval increased. FSH treatment of female rats induced a suppression of the initial unprimed LH response and delayed the maximally primed LH response, which showed further delay as the GnRH pulse-interval was increased.

When the pulsatile administration of GnRH was started 15–30 min after ovariectomy, the priming effect of GnRH did not change as the GnRH pulse-interval was increased in the saline-treated rats. However, FSH treatment caused a suppression of the unprimed LH response, a delay in the primed LH response and decreased the delay of the maximally primed LH response to GnRH when the GnRH pulse-interval was decreased.

Increasing the interval between ovariectomy and the first GnRH pulse to 4 h diminished the efficacy of the FSH treatment: GnRH-induced priming was delayed by only one pulse instead of the two pulses in control rats.

In intact males but not in orchidectomized rats, a self-priming effect was demonstrated during GnRH pulses which were 1 h apart. The effect of 2 nmol GnRH/kg body weight was the most pronounced. Compared with intact female rats, the timing of the maximally primed LH response was delayed by 1 h. FSH treatment did not affect the pituitary LH response to both dose levels of GnRH.

It is concluded that FSH treatment increased the release of GnSIF by the ovary, then induced a state of low responsiveness of the pituitary gland to GnRH and subsequently delayed GnRH-induced maximal self-priming. The efficacy of GnRH to prime the pituitary gland was higher when GnSIF levels were decreasing after removal of the ovaries. On the other hand, GnSIF was more effective when the GnRH pulse-interval was increasing. This allows GnSIF more time to restore the unprimed state of the pituitary gland after each GnRH pulse-induced self-priming effect. It remains a matter of debate whether a similar mechanism of action is present in the male rat or whether this mechanism is suppressed by endogenous hormones such as androgens.

Journal of Endocrinology (1993) 138, 191–201

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D. W. Koppenaal, A. M. I. Tijssen, J. A. M. J. van Dieten and J. de Koning


Female rats were treated with Metrodin (highly purified urinary FSH from menopausal women) or saline during the oestrous cycle. On the day of pro-oestrus they were anaesthesized with phenobarbital and received four repetitive LHRH injections 1 h apart. This treatment with FSH suppressed the unprimed LH response to the first LHRH injection. During the subsequent injections the maximal LHRH self-priming was delayed by 3 h till the fourth LHRH stimulation. At this time, LH release in response to LHRH was equally as high as shown in the saline controls after the second LHRH injection. Ovariectomized rats did not show the self-priming effect and FSH treatment was ineffective in suppressing LHRH-induced LH release. Administration of FSH followed by an additional 4- or 24-h period before LHRH stimulation were equally effective in suppressing the unprimed LH release and delaying (up to 3 h) the maximal priming of LH release by LHRH. Even 4–20-fold increased amounts of LHRH did not affect the suppressed unprimed release of LH after FSH treatment. Treatment with FSH did not change oestradiol and progesterone levels.

It was concluded that FSH treatment suppresses the unprimed LHRH-induced LH release and delays maximal LHRH self-priming by enhancing the release of an ovarian factor.

Journal of Endocrinology (1991) 129, 205–211

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J. A. M. J. van Dieten, J. de Koning and G. P. van Rees


When pituitary glands from intact female, but not from ovariectomized rats, are incubated for 8 h in medium TC199 without further additives, FSH is synthesized. This LHRH-independent (or autonomous) FSH synthesis is prevented when bovine follicular fluid (bFF) is added to the incubation medium.

Results from preliminary experiments, however, indicate no clear autonomous FSH synthesis after long-term absence of LHRH. To investigate the regulatory mechanisms involved in autonomous FSH synthesis and release, pituitary glands (exposed to endogenous LHRH) and pituitary grafts (not exposed to endogenous LHRH) from intact and ovariectomized rats were incubated for 8 h in medium TC199. Total FSH content (FSH released plus FSH remaining in the tissue) was compared with that in non-incubated glands or grafts, giving an indication of FSH synthesis. In addition, some of the animals were given LHRH pulses for 40 h before incubation. When pituitary tissue was taken from intact female rats, FSH synthesis occurred in the animals' own glands and in grafts from LHRH-pretreated rats. No FSH synthesis was seen in ovariectomized rats with or without pretreatment with bFF and/or LHRH. However, when ovariectomized rats had been pretreated with oestrogen, FSH synthesis was measured in vitro after pulsatile LHRH treatment in vivo.

The results indicate that autonomous FSH synthesis in vitro is dependent upon previous (in vivo) exposure of the glands to both oestrogen and LHRH.

Journal of Endocrinology (1991) 129, 27–33