Estradiol feedback alters potassium currents and firing properties of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons

Mol Endocrinol. 2002 Oct;16(10):2255-65. doi: 10.1210/me.2002-0155.


GnRH neurons are regulated by estradiol feedback through unknown mechanisms. Voltage-gated potassium channels determine the pattern of activity and response to synaptic inputs in many neurons. We used whole-cell patch-clamp to test whether estradiol feedback altered potassium currents in GnRH neurons. Adult mice were ovariectomized and some treated with estradiol implants to suppress reproductive neuroendocrine function; 1 wk later, brain slices were prepared for recording. Estradiol affected the amplitude, decay time, and the voltage dependence of both inactivation and activation of A-type potassium currents in these cells. Estradiol also altered a slowly inactivating current, I(K.) The estradiol-induced changes in I(A) contributed to marked changes in action potential properties. Estradiol increased excitability in GnRH neurons, decreasing both threshold and latency for action potential generation. To test whether estradiol altered phosphorylation of the channels or associated proteins, the broad-spectrum kinase inhibitor H7 was included in the recording pipette. H7 acutely reversed some but not all effects of estradiol on potassium currents. Estradiol did not affect I(A) or I(K) in paraventricular neurosecretory neurons, demonstrating a degree of specificity in these effects. Potassium channels are thus one target for estradiol regulation of GnRH neurons; this regulation involves changes in phosphorylation of potassium channel components.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 1-(5-Isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-Methylpiperazine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cadmium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / genetics
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Potassium Channels / drug effects
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Estradiol
  • 1-(5-Isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-Methylpiperazine
  • Cadmium Chloride