Effects of hyperprolactinemia on the control of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone secretion in the male rat

M (Susan) Smith, A. Bartke

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Experiments were conducted to determine the effects of acute hyperprolactinemia (hyperPRL) on the control of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone secretion in male rats. Exposure to elevated levels of prolactin from the time of castration (1 mg ovine prolactin 2 x daily) greatly attenuated the postcastration rise in LH observed 3 days after castration. By 7 days after castration, LH concentrations in the prolactin-treated animals approached the levels observed in control animals. HyperPRL had no effect on the postcastration rise in FSH. Pituitary responsiveness to gonadotropin hormone-releasing hormone (GnRH), as assessed by LH responses to an i.v. bolus of 25 ng GnRH, was only minimally effected by hyperPRL at 3 and 7 days postcastration. LH responses were similar at all time points after GnRH in control and prolactin-treated animals, except for the peak LH responses, which were significantly smaller in the prolactin-treated animals. The effects of hyperPRL were examined further by exposing hemipituitaries in vitro from male rats to 6-min pulses of GnRH (5 ng/ml) every 30 min for 4 h. HyperPRL had no effect on basal LH release in vitro, on GnRH-stimulated LH release, or on pituitary LH concentrations in hemipituitaries from animals that were intact, 3 days postcastration, or 7 days postcastration. However, GnRH-stimulated release of FSH was significantly higher by pituitaries from hyperprolactinemic, castrated males. To assess indirectly the effects of hyperPRL on GnRH release, males were subjected to electrical stimulation of the arcuate nucleus/median eminence (ARC/ME) 3 days postcastration. The presence of elevated levels of prolactin not only suppressed basal LH secretion but reduced the LH responses to electrical stimulation by 50% when compared to the LH responses in control castrated males. These results suggest that acute hyperPRL suppresses LH secretion but not FSH secretion. Although pituitary responsiveness is somewhat attenuated in hyperprolactinemic males, as assessed in vivo, it is normal when pituitaries are exposed to adequate amounts of GnRH in vitro. Thus, the effects of hyperPRL on pituitary responsiveness appear to be minimal, especially if the pituitary is exposed to an adequate GnRH stimulus. The suppression of basal LH secretion in vivo most likely reflects inadequate endogenous GnRH secretion. The greatly reduced LH responses after electrical stimulation in hyperprolactinemic males exposed to prolactin suggest further that hyperPRL suppresses GnRH secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-147
Number of pages10
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Embryology

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