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Endocrinology. 1986 Dec;119(6):2762-7.

The influence of chronic morphine treatment on the negative feedback regulation of gonadotropin secretion by gonadal steroids.


The influence of continuous stimulation of opiate receptors with morphine (M) on the negative feedback effects of testosterone (T), 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and 17 beta-estradiol (E2) on LH and FSH secretion was studied in rats that had been castrated 2 weeks previously. In the absence of gonadal steroids, 4 days of continuous M exposure did not alter LH or FSH levels. Similarly, Silastic capsules containing crystalline T (5 mm) or E2 [5 mm long (75 micrograms E2/ml) to 7.5 mm long (300 micrograms E2/ml)] alone had little effect on LH or FSH release. However, in M-exposed rats, T reduced serum LH by greater than 90%, and E2 reduced LH by more than 75%. Among the doses of DHT evaluated, only the highest dose (7.5-mm Silastic capsules packed with crystalline DHT) reduced LH secretion, and M exposure only slightly enhanced this suppression. M or gonadal steroids alone produced little change in FSH levels in castrated rats. However, the combination of M plus E2 or DHT further reduced FSH levels. Evaluation of pituitary responses to LHRH revealed that when administered alone, T did not alter, DHT reduced, and E2 enhanced the LH response to the decapeptide. Neither M treatment alone nor M plus T or DHT altered the pituitary LH response to LHRH. On the other hand, M appeared to enhance the stimulatory effects of E2 on pituitary responsiveness to LHRH. These findings suggest that the interaction of M and gonadal steroids at the level of the pituitary could not explain the observed marked suppression of gonadotropin secretion by suboptimal T or E2 during opiate receptor stimulation with M. Collectively, these observations are in accord with the view that endogenous opioid peptides may play a role in modulating the sensitivity of the hypothalamus to the negative feedback effects of gonadal steroids.

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