Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) has been proposed as a mediator of the anti-reproductive effects of stress through an action within the hypothalamus to inhibit GnRH secretion. This hypothesis was tested in sheep by studying the responses to central administration of CRH in both sexes and in both seasons. Sexually mature, Ile-de-France ewes and Romanov rams that had been,gonadectomized and implanted with a permanent guide cannula into the third cerebral ventricle were used. Ewes were studied in the presence and absence of exogenous oestradiol plus progesterone, in both the breeding and anoestrous seasons. All rams were treated with testosterone and were studied only during the breeding season. Each observation involved serial samples (every 10 min) of jugular blood for 5 h before (control) and 5 h after an intracerebroventricular (icy) injection of either saline (vehicle) or 5 nmoles CRH in 20 mu l vehicle. The saline injections did not affect any of the endocrine variables measured; however, CRH always increased cortisol concentrations in jugular plasma. In the absence of treatment with replacement sex steroids, icy injection of CRH had no effect on pulsatile LH secretion in females either during the breeding season or during anoestrus. However, LH pulse frequency and mean LH concentrations increased significantly on every occasion on which animals were treated with sex steroids. Treatment with CRH also increased LH secretion in the testosterone-treated rams. It is concluded that, contrary to the hypothesized role of CRH as an inhibitor of reproductive activity, this neuropeptide stimulates pulsatile LH (and thus GnRH) secretion, at least in this species. The fact that gonadal steroids seem to be obligatory for the expression of this effect suggests that the protocols used in past studies need to be reassessed.
|Publication status||Published - 1997|