Hyperandrogenic women have various grades of ovulatory dysfunction, which lead to infertility. The purpose of this study was to determine whether chronic exposure to androgen affects the expression of kisspeptin (ovulation and follicle development regulator) or release of luteinizing hormone (LH) in female rats. Weaned females were subcutaneously implanted with 90-day continuous-release pellets of 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and studied after 10 weeks of age. Number of Kiss1-expressing cells in both the anteroventral periventricular nucleus (AVPV) and arcuate nucleus (ARC) was significantly decreased in ovary-intact DHT rats. Further, an estradiol-induced LH surge was not detected in DHT rats, even though significant differences were not observed between DHT and non-DHT rats with regard to number of AVPV Kiss1-expressing cells or gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-immunoreactive (ir) cells in the presence of high estradiol. Kiss1-expressing and neurokinin B-ir cells were significantly decreased in the ARC of ovariectomized (OVX) DHT rats compared with OVX non-DHT rats; pulsatile LH secretion was also suppressed in these animals. Central injection of kisspeptin-10 or intravenous injection of a GnRH agonist did not affect the LH release in DHT rats. Notably, ARC Kiss1-expressing cells expressed androgen receptors (ARs) in female rats, whereas only a few Kiss1-expressing cells expressed ARs in the AVPV. Collectively, our results suggest excessive androgen suppresses LH surge and pulsatile LH secretion by inhibiting kisspeptin expression in the ARC and disruption at the pituitary level, whereas AVPV kisspeptin neurons appear to be directly unaffected by androgen. Hence, hyperandrogenemia may adversely affect ARC kisspeptin neurons, resulting in anovulation and menstrual irregularities.
Keywords: 5α-dihydrotestosterone; androgen receptor; hyperandrogenism/hyperandrogenemia; kisspeptin.
© 2017 Society for Endocrinology.