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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Immunocytochemical localization of beta endorphin and gonadal steroid regulation of proopiomelanocortin messenger ribonucleic acid in the ewe.

In the ewe, estradiol and progesterone inhibit luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion during the breeding season. Endogenous opioid peptides (EOP) are also inhibitory to LH secretion, and both estrogen and progesterone have been reported to enhance EOP inhibition of LH release. Which EOP are involved in this inhibition is unclear. In this study, we concentrated on beta-endorphin because evidence for its ability to inhibit LH secretion exists in ewes. We first studied the distribution of beta-endorphin-immunoreactive neurons in 4 cycling ewes using immunocytochemistry. Cell bodies were found only within the medial basal hypothalamus (MBH) and were concentrated in arcuate nucleus and mammillary recess of the third ventricle, with a few in the median eminence. Extensive fiber tracts were seen in preoptic area (POA) and median eminence. We next tested the hypothesis that gonadal steroids increase the synthesis of EOP by measuring levels of mRNA for proopiomelanocortin (POMC), the precursor to beta-endorphin. Ovariectomized ewes were treated with no steroids (n = 7) or given subcutaneous Silastic implants containing either estradiol (n = 6) or progesterone (n = 6). After 4 days of treatment, EOP inhibition of LH secretion was measured by determining the LH response to WIN 44,441-3 (WIN), an EOP antagonist. LH pulse frequency and pulse amplitude were determined in blood samples collected at 12-min intervals for 3 h before and after intravenous administration of 12.5 mg WIN. WIN injection increased (p < 0.01) the LH pulse-frequency only in progesterone-treated and pulse amplitude only in estradiol-treated ewes. After blood sampling, the ewes were killed, and POA, MBH, and pituitary gland were removed. Total RNA was extracted from these tissues and dot blotted onto nitrocellulose membranes for hybridization with a DNA probe complementary to the POMC mRNA. The resulting autoradiographs were quantified densitometrically. Levels of POMC mRNA in the MBH were increased (p < 0.01) by both estradiol and progesterone as compared with the no steroid group. There was no detectable POMC mRNA in the POA. These results suggest that estrogen and progesterone enhance EOP inhibition of LH secretion by increasing POMC mRNA levels and thus synthesis of beta-endorphin.[1]


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