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      Projections to the Preoptic Area from the Paraventricular Nucleus, Arcuate Nucleus and the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis Are Unlikely to Be Involved in Stress-Induced Suppression of GnRH Secretion in Sheep

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          Stress compromises reproductive function and the major physiological system activated during stress is the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. Corticotrophin-releasing hormone and arginine vasopressin (AVP), which are produced in neurones of the paraventricular nucleus (PVN), drive the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis and are also implicated in the suppression of the reproductive axis. We used retrograde tracing and Fos labelling to map the projections from the PVN to the preoptic area (POA) where most gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurones are found. Fluorogold (FG) injections were made into the POA of gonadectomised male and female sheep (n = 5/sex), the animals were stressed and the brains recovered for histochemistry. All animals responded to stress with an increase in the number of Fos-labelled nuclei in the PVN. Few retrogradely labelled cells of the PVN were activated by stress. Dual labelling showed that very few FG-labelled cells also stained for corticotrophin-releasing hormone, none for AVP or enkephalin. Dual labelling for FG and Fos in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and the arcuate nucleus showed that no FG-labelled cells in the BNST and only few in the ARC were activated by stress. No sex differences were observed in the activation of FG-labelled cells in any of the nuclei examined. We conclude that, although cells of the PVN, BNST and/or arcuate nucleus may affect reproduction via the GnRH cells of the POA, this is unlikely to involve direct input to the POA. If cells of these regions are involved in GnRH suppression during stress, this may occur via interneuronal pathways.

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          Most cited references 49

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          Gonadal steroid hormone receptors and sex differences in the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis.

          The rapid activation of stress-responsive neuroendocrine systems is a basic reaction of animals to perturbations in their environment. One well-established response is that of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In rats, corticosterone is the major adrenal steroid secreted and is released in direct response to adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) secreted from the anterior pituitary gland. ACTH in turn is regulated by the hypothalamic factor, corticotropin-releasing hormone. A sex difference exists in the response of the HPA axis to stress, with females reacting more robustly than males. It has been demonstrated that in both sexes, products of the HPA axis inhibit reproductive function. Conversely, the sex differences in HPA function are in part due to differences in the circulating gonadal steroid hormone milieu. It appears that testosterone can act to inhibit HPA function, whereas estrogen can enhance HPA function. One mechanism by which androgens and estrogens modulate stress responses is through the binding to their cognate receptors in the central nervous system. The distribution and regulation of androgen and estrogen receptors within the CNS suggest possible sites and mechanisms by which gonadal steroid hormones can influence stress responses. In the case of androgens, data suggest that the control of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus is mediated trans-synaptically. For estrogen, modulation of the HPA axis may be due to changes in glucocorticoid receptor-mediated negative feedback mechanisms. The results of a variety of studies suggest that gonadal steroid hormones, particularly testosterone, modulate HPA activity in an attempt to prevent the deleterious effects of HPA activation on reproductive function.
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            Effects of stress on reproduction in non-rodent mammals: the role of glucocorticoids and sex differences.

            The means by which stress influences reproduction is not clearly understood, but may involve a number of endocrine, paracrine and neural systems. Stress impacts on the reproductive axis at the hypothalamus (to affect GnRH secretion) and the pituitary gland (to affect gonadotrophin secretion), with direct effects on the gonads being of less importance. Different stressors have different effects and there are differences in response to short- and long-term stress. Many short-term stresses fail to affect reproduction and there are reports of stimulatory effects of some 'stressors'. There are species differences in the way that specific stressors affect reproduction. Sex differences in the effects of a particular stressor have been delineated and these may relate to effects of stress at different levels of the hypothalamo-pituitary axis. The significance of stress-induced secretion of cortisol varies with species. In some instances, there appears to be little impact of short-term increases in cortisol concentrations and protracted increases in plasma concentration seem to be required before any deleterious effect on reproduction is apparent. Issues of sex, sex steroid status, type of stressor and duration of stress need to be considered to improve understanding of this issue.
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              The temporal relationship between gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion in ovariectomized ewes.


                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                December 2006
                11 December 2006
                : 84
                : 1
                : 1-13
                Department of Physiology, Monash University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia
                96372 Neuroendocrinology 2006;84:1–13
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 3, References: 63, Pages: 13
                Original Paper


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