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Endocrinology. 2011 Sep;152(9):3451-60. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-0195. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Evidence that the arcuate nucleus is an important site of progesterone negative feedback in the ewe.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506, USA.


There is now considerable evidence that dynorphin neurons mediate the negative feedback actions of progesterone to inhibit GnRH and LH pulse frequency, but the specific neurons have yet to be identified. In ewes, dynorphin neurons in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) and preoptic area (POA) are likely candidates based on colocalization with progesterone receptors. These studies tested the hypothesis that progesterone negative feedback occurs in either the ARC or POA by determining whether microimplants of progesterone into either site would inhibit LH pulse frequency (study 1) and whether microimplants of the progesterone receptor antagonist, RU486, would disrupt the inhibitory effects of peripheral progesterone (study 2). Both studies were done in ovariectomized (OVX) and estradiol-treated OVX ewes. In study 1, no inhibitory effects of progesterone were observed during treatment in either area. In study 2, microimplants of RU486 into the ARC disrupted the negative-feedback actions of peripheral progesterone treatments on LH pulse frequency in both OVX and OVX+estradiol ewes. In contrast, microimplants of RU486 into the POA had no effect on the ability of systemic progesterone to inhibit LH pulse frequency. We thus conclude that the ARC is one important site of progesterone-negative feedback in the ewe. These data, which are the first evidence on the neural sites in which progesterone inhibits GnRH pulse frequency in any species, are consistent with the hypothesis that ARC dynorphin neurons mediate this action of progesterone.

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