The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of immune (systemic endotoxin administration) and metabolic (fasting) challenges on LHRH neuronal activity and transcription in the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis/medial preoptic area as well as on the expression of the LHRH receptor (LHRH-R) in the anterior pituitary of cycling female rats. The reproductive stages of adult female rats (200-250 g; 14 h of light; lights on at 0600 h) were verified by daily vaginal smears taken every morning for a minimum of three or four cycles before the experiment. The acute-phase response was induced via an ip injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 200 μg/100 g BW), whereas the metabolic challenge consisted of food deprivation for at least 48 h. Control and challenged rats were killed at specific times in the ovulatory cycle (1200, 1500, and 1800 h on proestrus and diestrous day 2). Frozen brains and pituitaries were mounted on a microtome, cut into 30- μm slices, and then processed for the detection of transcripts encoding either LHRH or LHRH-R by means of in situ hybridization histochemistry using intronic (hetero-nuclear RNA) and exonic [messenger RNA (mRNA)] riboprobes. Dual immunocytochemistry to detect Fos-immunoreactive (ir) nuclei in LHRH-ir perikarya and colocalization of LHRH mRNA with Fos protein during the day of proestrus were performed by using both in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry techniques on the same brain sections. The percentage of LHRH-ir and LHRH-expressing neurons displaying positive Fos-ir nuclei during the afternoon of proestrus was significantly inhibited 3 h after endotoxin administration. Rats exhibited an increase in the levels of LHRH primary transcript in the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis/medial preoptic area structure at 1500 h on proestrus, a phenomenon significantly attenuated by LPS injection only at this phase of the estrous cycle. On the other hand, fasting did not affect LHRH neuronal activity or gene expression in intact cycling rats, but affected these cells in animals exhibiting a disruption of the ovulatory cycle. Interestingly, LPS caused a profound down-regulation of LHRH-R gene expression in the anterior pituitary throughout the entire estrous cycle. Although food deprivation provoked a more variable pattern of LHRH-R mRNA in cycling rats, the signal for this transcript in the adenohypophysis was deeply altered in those showing a perturbed cycle. These results provide evidence that immune challenge interferes with the LHRH system at both hypothalamic and pituitary levels, whereas alteration of that neuroendocrine system in food-deprived rats seems highly associated with the impairment of reproductive cyclicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism