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J Endocrinol. 2006 Dec;191(3):651-63.

Human neurons express type I GnRH receptor and respond to GnRH I by increasing luteinizing hormone expression.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Veterans Administration Hospital, University of Wisconsin, 2500 Overlook Terrace, Madison, Wisconsin 53705, USA.


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor I (GnRHR I) has been localized to the limbic system of the rat brain, although the functional consequences of GnRH signaling through these receptors is unknown. In this paper, we characterize the expression of GnRHR I in the human hippocampus and cortex, and the functionality of GnRHR I in human neuroblastoma cells. Robust GnRHR I immunoreactivity was detected in the cell body as well as along the apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons in the CA2, CA1, and end plate, but was clearly lower in the subiculum of the hippocampus. Immunolabeling was also evident in cortical neurons, including those located in the entorhinal cortex and occipitotemporal gyrus but was not observed within the granular layer of the dentate gyrus. No differences in immunohistochemical staining were observed between control and Alzheimer's disease brain. GnRHR I mRNA and protein (mature, immature, and other variant) expression was detected in human neuroblastoma cells (M17, SH-SY5Y) and rat embryonic primary neurons and varied with differentiation and GnRH treatment. Since GnRHR I was expressed by extrapituitary cells, and hypothalamic GnRH I secretion markedly increases post-menopause/andropause, we treated human M17 neuroblastoma cells cultured in serum-free conditions with GnRH I for 6 h and measured LH expression. M17 neuroblastoma cells express LHbeta mRNA, while immunoblot analysis indicated the presence of three LH variants (approximately 30, 47, and 60 kDa) that were upregulated by low concentrations of GnRH I, but down-regulated at higher GnRH I concentrations. LH expression was also found to increase in differentiating embryonic rat primary cortical neurons. Our results demonstrate that neurons expressing GnRHR I are functional, responding to GnRH I by upregulating LH production. Post-reproductive surges in GnRH I secretion may explain the accumulation of LH in pyramidal neurons of the aged human and rat.

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