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Biochem Cell Biol. 2000;78(3):241-59.

The role of amino acid neurotransmitters in the regulation of pituitary gonadotropin release in fish.

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Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, ON, Canada.


Both glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are involved in pituitary hormone release in fish. Glutamate serves 2 purposes, both as a neurotransmitter and as a precursor for GABA synthesis. Glutamate can be catabolized to GABA by the actions of 2 distinct but related enzymes, glutamate decarboxylase 65 (GAD65) and GAD67. They derive from 2 different genes that likely arose from an early gene duplication prior to the emergence of teleosts more than 400 million years ago. There is good evidence for the involvement of GABA in luteinizing hormone (LH) release in fish. The mechanism of GABA action to stimulate LH release appears to be a combination of effects on GnRH release, potentiation of gonadotropin hormone-releasing hormone (GnRH) action, and in some cases directly at the LH cell. These actions appear to be dependent on such factors as sex or sex steroid levels, and there may also be species differences. Nevertheless, the stimulatory effects of GABA on LH are present in at least 4 fish species. In contrast, convincing data for the inhibitory effects of GABA on LH release have only been observed in 1 fish species. The sites and mechanisms of action of amino acid neurotransmitters on LH release have yet to be fully characterized. Both 130N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) and S-alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) type glutamate receptors are likely to have important roles. We suggest that it is a receptor similar to the GABA(A) type which mediates the effects of GABA on LH release in fish, at least partially acting on the GnRH neuron, but likely directly acting at the gonadotroph as well. GABA may also be involved in regulating the release of other pituitary hormones in fish, namely follicle stimulating hormone (FSH = GTH-I), prolactin, and growth hormone. Based on the findings described in this review, a working model for the involvement of glutamate and GABA in the regulation of LH release in teleost fish is proposed.

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