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Review
, 28 (3), 281-6

Control of Puberty by Excitatory Amino Acid Neurotransmitters and Its Clinical Implications

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Review

Control of Puberty by Excitatory Amino Acid Neurotransmitters and Its Clinical Implications

Anne-Simone Parent et al. Endocrine.

Abstract

Excitatory amino acids, glutamate in particular, have a marked stimulatory effect on the reproductive axis, particularly at puberty. Glutamate, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), and kainate stimulate gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion in immature mammals and NMDA receptor stimulation results in precocious puberty in rats and monkeys. Puberty is characterized by an increased sensitivity of GnRH to glutamate as well as an increase in glutaminase activity in the hypothalamus. Glutamatergic and GABAergic regulation of GnRH secretion seem strongly interdependent around puberty. In addition to the transsynaptic glutamatergic regulation of GnRH secretion, a coordinated activity of glutamatergic neurons and astroglial cells has been shown to play an active role in puberty. The participation of kainate receptors in the estradiol-induced advancement of puberty suggest that these receptors may be involved in the estradiol-mediated activation of GnRH secretion at puberty. A case of precocious puberty associated with hyperglycinemia illustrates the NMDA involvement in puberty in humans. In this patient, the occurrence of precocious puberty was thought to result from excessive stimulation by glycine of the NMDA receptors linked to the GnRH neurons. Glutamate plays several roles in the hypothalamic mechanism of puberty as it has been shown in animal models, but there are still few clinical data supporting the role of glutamate in human puberty.

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