Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone nerve terminals, tanycytes and neurohaemal junction remodelling in the adult median eminence: functional consequences for reproduction and dynamic role of vascular endothelial cells

J Neuroendocrinol. 2010 Jul;22(7):639-49. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2010.02033.x. Epub 2010 May 18.


Although coordinated actions of several areas within the hypothalamus are involved in the secretion of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH), the median eminence of the hypothalamus, where the nerve terminals are located, plays a particularly critical role in the release of GnRH. In adult females, prior to the preovulatory surge of GnRH, the retraction of specialised ependymoglial cells lining the floor of the third ventricle named tanycytes allows for the juxtaposition of GnRH nerve terminals with the adjacent pericapillary space of the pituitary portal vasculature, thus forming direct neurohaemal junctions. These morphological changes occur within a few hours and are reversible. Such remodelling may promote physiological conditions to enhance the central release of GnRH and potentiate oestrogen-activated GnRH release. This plasticity involves dynamic cell interactions that bring into play tanycytes, astrocytes, vascular endothelial cells and GnRH neurones themselves. The underlying signalling pathways responsible for these structural changes are comprised of highly diffusible gaseous molecules, such as endothelial nitric oxide, and paracrine communication processes involving receptors of the erbB tyrosine kinase family, transforming growth factor beta 1 and eicosanoids, such as prostaglandin E(2). Some of these molecules, as a result of their ability to diffuse within the median eminence, may also serve as synchronizing cues allowing for the occurrence of functionally meaningful episodes of GnRH secretion by coordinating GnRH release from the GnRH neuroendocrine terminals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Median Eminence / cytology
  • Median Eminence / metabolism*
  • Nerve Endings / metabolism*
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Reproduction / physiology*


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Dinoprostone