GnRH pulsatility, the pituitary response and reproductive dysfunction

Endocr J. 2009;56(6):729-37. doi: 10.1507/endocrj.k09e-185. Epub 2009 Jul 17.


GnRH plays an essential role in neuroendocrine control of reproductive function. In mammals, the pattern of gonadotropin secretion includes both pulse and surge phases, which are regulated independently. The pulsatile release of GnRH and LH plays an important role in the development of sexual function and in the normal regulation of the menstrual cycle. The importance of GnRH pulsatility was established in a series of classic studies. Fertility is impaired when GnRH pulsatility is inhibited by chronic malnutrition, excessive caloric expenditure, or aging. A number of reproductive disorders in women with including hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, hypothlamic amenorrhea, hyperprolactinemia and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are also associated with disruption of the normal pulsatile GnRH secretion. Despite these findings, the molecular mechanisms of this pulsatile GnRH regulation are not well understood. Here, we review recent studies about GnRH pulsatility, signaling and transcriptional response, and its implications for disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infertility / etiology
  • Male
  • Pituitary Gland / physiology*
  • Reproduction / physiology*


  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone