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Endocr Rev. 2001 Feb;22(1):111-51.

Neurobiological mechanisms of the onset of puberty in primates.

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Department of Pediatrics, Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, 53715-1299, USA.


An increase in pulsatile release of LHRH is essential for the onset of puberty. However, the mechanism controlling the pubertal increase in LHRH release is still unclear. In primates the LHRH neurosecretory system is already active during the neonatal period but subsequently enters a dormant state in the juvenile/prepubertal period. Neither gonadal steroid hormones nor the absence of facilitatory neuronal inputs to LHRH neurons is responsible for the low levels of LHRH release before the onset of puberty in primates. Recent studies suggest that during the prepubertal period an inhibitory neuronal system suppresses LHRH release and that during the subsequent maturation of the hypothalamus this prepubertal inhibition is removed, allowing the adult pattern of pulsatile LHRH release. In fact, y-aminobutyric acid (GABA) appears to be an inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for restricting LHRH release before the onset of puberty in female rhesus monkeys. In addition, it appears that the reduction in tonic GABA inhibition allows an increase in the release of glutamate as well as other neurotransmitters, which contributes to the increase in pubertal LHRH release. In this review, developmental changes in several neurotransmitter systems controlling pulsatile LHRH release are extensively reviewed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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