Central catecholaminergic neurones projecting to specific hypothalamic structures are involved in stimulating and inhibiting the activity of the GnRH-containing neurosecretory neurones. Both testosterone and elevated circulating prolactin (PRL) levels inhibit postcastration LH release. Three groups of adult male rats were orchidectomized and adrenalectomized, received corticosterone replacement and were: (i) administered purified ovine PRL (oPRL; 2400 μg/s.c. injection) or (ii) its diluent, polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), every 12 h, or (iii) received physiological testosterone replacement for 2 days. At 0, 2 and 6 days postcastration, norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E) and dopamine (DA) turnover were estimated by the α-methyl-p-tyrosine method in three micro-dissected hypothalamic structures: the diagonal band of Broca at the level of the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (DBB(ovlt)), the medial preoptic nucleus (MPN) and the median eminence (ME). In control (PVP-treated) rats, serum LH concentrations increased eightfold at 2 and 6 days postcastration and this rise was prevented by testosterone. oPRL treatment transiently suppressed LH secretion at 2 but not 6 days postcastration. Castration significantly decreased basal rat PRL (rPRL) levels at 2 and 6 days and testosterone administration partially prevented this effect.
NE turnover in the ME and E turnover in the MPN increased markedly at 2 and 6 days postcastration, and testosterone replacement for 2 days prevented these increases. Thus, noradrenergic neurones innervating the ME and adrenergic neurones innvervating the MPN may drive postcastration LH secretion by providing stimulatory afferent input to the GnRH neurones. It was striking to observe that oPRL blocked the increases in both ME NE and MPN E turnover at 2 but not 6 days postcastration. Hence, oPRL may transiently suppress LH release by an inhibitory action on these NE and E neurones.
DA turnover in the DBB(ovlt) was significantly decreased by 6 days postcastration. Testosterone-treated (2 days postcastration) and oPRL-treated (2 and 6 days postcastration) rats exhibited turnover values indistinguishable from day 0 controls. Hence, the A14 dopaminergic neurones, which synapse on GnRH neurones in the rostral preoptic area and may exert an inhibitory effect on them, are positively regulated by PRL and perhaps by testosterone as well.
Autoregulatory feedback suppression of endogenous rPRL secretion by oPRL was observed both 2 and 6 days postcastration. In contrast to the A14 dopaminergic neurones, turnover in the A12 tuberoinfundibular dopaminergic (TIDA) neurones innervating the ME increased significantly by 6 days postcastration in control rats while oPRL administration further increased ME DA turnover at both 2 and 6 days. Hence, autofeedback regulation of rPRL secretion persists through at least 6 days of oPRL exposure temporally associated with markedly increased turnover in the TIDA neurones. In summary, our results support the hypothesis that the inhibitory effect of PRL on postcastration LH release is mediated by suppression of the activity of NE neurones innervating the ME and E neurones terminating in the MPN which, with time, become refractory to continued PRL exposure.
Journal of Endocrinology (1996) 148, 291–301