Opposite roles of estrogen receptor (ER)-alpha and ERbeta in the modulation of luteinizing hormone responses to kisspeptin in the female rat: implications for the generation of the preovulatory surge

Endocrinology. 2008 Apr;149(4):1627-37. doi: 10.1210/en.2007-1540. Epub 2008 Jan 3.


Ovulation is triggered by the preovulatory rise of gonadotropins, which is in turn elicited by the preceding increase in circulating estrogen. Kisspeptins, ligands of G protein-coupled receptor 54 encoded by the KiSS-1 gene, have emerged as potent stimulators of GnRH/LH secretion, and KiSS-1 neurons at the anteroventral periventricular nucleus have been shown to be involved in the generation of preovulatory LH surge, estrogen being a potent elicitor of KiSS-1 gene expression selectively at the anteroventral periventricular nucleus. Whether, in addition to transcriptional effects, estrogen influences other aspects of kisspeptin-induced GnRH/LH release in the female remains unexplored. We provide herein evidence for the specific roles of estrogen receptor (ER)-alpha and ERbeta in the modulation of LH responses to kisspeptin and the generation of the preovulatory surge. Selective blockade of ERalpha in cyclic females blunted LH responses to kisspeptin, eliminated the endogenous preovulatory rise of LH, and blocked ovulation. In contrast, antagonism of ERbeta failed to cause major changes in terms of LH surge and ovulatory rate but significantly augmented acute LH responses to kisspeptin. Notably, defective LH secretion and ovulation after ERalpha blockade were not observed after GnRH stimulation, which elicited maximal acute (<2 h) LH responses regardless of ERalpha/ERbeta signaling. In addition, net LH secretion in response to kisspeptin was decreased by ovariectomy and increased after selective activation of ERalpha but not ERbeta. Altogether, our data document the prominent positive role of ERalpha in the regulation of GnRH/LH responsiveness to kisspeptin and, thereby, ovulation. In addition, our results disclose the putative function of ERbeta as negative modifier of GnRH/LH response to kisspeptin, a phenomenon that might contribute to partially restraining LH secretion at certain physiological states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / physiology*
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Kisspeptins
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Ovulation / blood
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Progesterone / physiology
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / pharmacology*


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • KISS1 protein, human
  • Kisspeptins
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Luteinizing Hormone