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Endocrinology. 1989 Aug;125(2):917-24.

The frequency of gonadotropin-releasing-hormone stimulation differentially regulates gonadotropin subunit messenger ribonucleic acid expression.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-0354.


The hypothalamic decapeptide GnRH is known to regulate the synthesis and secretion of LH and FSH by pituitary gonadotrope cells. The frequency of pulsatile GnRH secretion changes and LH and FSH are differentially secreted in various physiological situations. To investigate the potential role of altered frequency of GnRH stimulation in regulating differential secretion of LH and FSH, we examined the effects of GnRH frequency on expression of the alpha, LH beta, and FSH beta genes. GnRH pulses (25 ng/pulse) were administered to castrate testosterone-replaced rats at intervals of 8-480 min to cover the range of physiological pulsatile GnRH secretion. Fast frequency GnRH pulses (8-min pulse intervals) increased alpha-subunit mRNA concentrations 3-fold above those in saline-pulsed controls (controls, 1.01 fmol cDNA bound/100 micrograms pituitary DNA) and LH beta mRNA by 50% (controls, 0.18 fmol cDNA bound), but FSH beta mRNA was unchanged (controls, 0.38 fmol cDNA bound). GnRH pulses given every 30 min increased all three subunit mRNAs (alpha, 3-fold, LHbeta, 2-fold; FSH beta, 2-fold), and acute LH release and serum FSH concentrations were maximal after this frequency. Slower frequency GnRH stimuli (120- to 480-min pulse intervals) did not change alpha and LH beta mRNA levels, but increased FSH beta mRNA 2- to 2.5-fold, and FSH secretion was maintained. Equalization of the total dose of GnRH given at different intervals over 24 h confirmed the frequency dependence of subunit mRNA expression. Fast frequency GnRH stimuli (8 min) increased alpha mRNA 1.5- to 2.5-fold, while the same total GnRH doses were ineffective when given at slow frequency (480 min). Similarly, LH beta mRNA was only increased by GnRH pulses given at 8-min intervals. In contrast, FSH beta mRNA increased 2-fold after pulses given every 480 min, and the 8-min pulse interval was ineffective. The data show that the frequency of GnRH stimulation can differentially regulate gonadotropin subunit mRNA expression and may be a mechanism that enables a single GnRH peptide to selectively regulate gonadotropin subunit gene expression and hormone secretion.

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