Corticotropin-releasing hormone inhibition of gonadotropin release and the effect of opioid blockade

A. Barbarino, L. De Marinis, A. Tofani, S. Della Casa, C. D'Amico, A. Mancini, S. M. Corsello, R. Sciuto, A. Barini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We studied the inhibitory effect of exogenous CRH on pulsatile gonadotropin secretion and the role of endogenous opioid peptides in this phenomenon in normal women. To do so, we infused human CRH (100 μg/h for 3 h) into 15 normal women during the midluteal phase of their menstrual cycle and studied its effect on both basal (10 women) and GnRH-stimulated (5 women) plasma gonadotropin levels. CRH infusion induced a significant decrease in plasma LH and FSH levels in all women. The decline in plasma LH (62%) was greater than that in FSH (36%). Plasma LH and FSH concentrations returned to basal levels within 30 min after the end of the CRH infusion. CRH infusion did not alter the gonadotropin response to GnRH. We also infused naloxone plus CRH in the 10 women who had received CRH alone during the midluteal phase of a different cycle. Addition of naloxone to CRH (5 women) reversed the LH and FSH inhibition when naloxone was started 1 h after the start of the CRH infusion. When naloxone was started 1 h before CRH infusion (5 women), plasma LH and FSH concentrations did not change. Plasma cortisol increased similarly during both the CRH and CRH plus naloxone infusions; the mean cortisol levels at the end of the CRH and CRH plus naloxone infusions were 497 ± 40 (± SE) and 484 ± 41 nmol/L, respectively, compared to 240 ± 14 nmol/L after saline infusion (P <0.001). These results demonstrate that in normal women during the midluteal phase of the menstrual cycle, CRH inhibits the secretion of both LH and FSH. The CRH-induced inhibition of gonadotropin secretion is primarily mediated by endogenous opioid peptides, and this effect is not dependent on glucocorticoid levels. We suggest that the disruptive effect of stress on reproductive function in the women could be, at least in part, dependent on decreased gonadotropin secretion induced by elevated endogenous CRH levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-528
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume68
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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    Barbarino, A., De Marinis, L., Tofani, A., Della Casa, S., D'Amico, C., Mancini, A., Corsello, S. M., Sciuto, R., & Barini, A. (1989). Corticotropin-releasing hormone inhibition of gonadotropin release and the effect of opioid blockade. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 68(3), 523-528.