Endocrinology Journal Article

Somatostatin-nNOS Neurons Participate in LH Surge

February 18, 2020
 

Richard B McCosh, Justin A Lopez, Brett M Szeligo, Michelle N Bedenbaugh, Stanley M Hileman, Lique M Coolen, Michael N Lehman, Robert L Goodman
Endocrinology, Volume 161, Issue 3, March 2020, bqaa010
https://doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqaa010

Abstract

Elevated and sustained estradiol concentrations cause a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) surge that is necessary for ovulation. In sheep, several different neural systems have been implicated in this stimulatory action of estradiol and this study focused on somatostatin (SST) neurons in the ventral lateral region of the ventral medial nucleus (vlVMN) which express c-Fos during the surge. First, we determined if increased activity of SST neurons could be related to elevated GnRH secretion by assessing SST synapses onto GnRH neurons and neurons coexpressing kisspeptin, neurokinin B, dynorphin (KNDy). We found that the percentage of preoptic area GnRH neurons that receive SST input increased during the surge compared with other phases of the cycle. However, since SST is generally inhibitory, and pharmacological manipulation of SST signaling did not alter the LH surge in sheep, we hypothesized that nitric oxide (NO) was also produced by these neurons to account for their activation during the surge. In support of this hypothesis we found that (1) the majority of SST cells in the vlVMN (>80%) contained neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS); (2) the expression of c-Fos in dual-labeled SST-nNOS cells, but not in single-labeled cells, increased during the surge compared with other phases of the cycle; and (3) intracerebroventricular (ICV) infusion of the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, completely blocked the estrogen-induced LH surge. These data support the hypothesis that the population of SST-nNOS cells in the vlVMN are a source of NO that is critical for the LH surge, and we propose that they are an important site of estradiol positive feedback in sheep.

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