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Int Rev Cell Mol Biol. 2009;274:69-127. doi: 10.1016/S1937-6448(08)02002-9.

Chapter 2: hypothalamic neural systems controlling the female reproductive life cycle gonadotropin-releasing hormone, glutamate, and GABA.

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Institute for Neuroscience, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


The hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis undergoes a number of changes throughout the reproductive life cycle that are responsible for the development, puberty, adulthood, and senescence of reproductive systems. This natural progression is dictated by the neural network controlling the hypothalamus including the cells that synthesize and release gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and their regulatory neurotransmitters. Glutamate and GABA are the primary excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, and as such contribute a great deal to modulating this axis throughout the lifetime via their actions on receptors in the hypothalamus, both directly on GnRH neurons as well as indirectly through other hypothalamic neural networks. Interactions among GnRH neurons, glutamate, and GABA, including the regulation of GnRH gene and protein expression, hormone release, and modulation by estrogen, are critical to age-appropriate changes in reproductive function. Here, we present evidence for the modulation of GnRH neurosecretory cells by the balance of glutamate and GABA in the hypothalamus, and the functional consequences of these interactions on reproductive physiology across the life cycle.

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