GABAergic integration of progesterone and androgen feedback to gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons

Biol Reprod. 2005 Jan;72(1):33-41. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.104.033126. Epub 2004 Sep 1.


Steroid feedback regulates GnRH secretion and previous work has implicated gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic neurons as a mediator of these effects. We examined GABAergic postsynaptic currents (PSCs) in green fluorescent protein-identified GnRH neurons from mice exposed to different steroid milieus in vivo. Adult mice were ovariectomized and treated with estradiol (OVX+E, controls) or E plus progesterone (P, OVX+E+P). P decreased PSC frequency, a presynaptic effect, and PSC size, which could be via pre- and/or postsynaptic mechanisms. In contrast, dihydrotestosterone (DHT, OVX+E+DHT) increased both GABAergic PSC frequency and size in GnRH neurons. Tetrodotoxin (TTX), which eliminates action-potential-dependent presynaptic effects, did not alter frequency, suggesting DHT may have increased PSC frequency by increasing connectivity between GABAergic and GnRH neurons. TTX reduced PSC size below control values, indicating DHT may augment presynaptic GABA release but inhibits the postsynaptic GnRH neuron response. In mice treated with both P and DHT (OVX+E+P+DHT), PSC frequency and size were similar to controls, suggesting these steroids counteract one another. These results demonstrate GABAergic neurons participate in integrating and conveying steroid feedback to GnRH neurons, defining a potential central mechanism for steroid regulation of GnRH neurons during the reproductive cycle, and providing one possible mechanism for increased activity of these cells in hyperandrogenic females.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Dihydrotestosterone / pharmacology
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Female
  • GABA Agents / pharmacology
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Progesterone / metabolism*
  • Progesterone / pharmacology
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Androgens
  • GABA Agents
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid