Several GABAA receptor subunits are expressed in LHRH neurons of juvenile female rats

Brain Res. 1998 Jan 12;780(2):218-29. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(97)01152-9.


Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), the dominant inhibitory neurotransmitter in brain, is involved in the developmental regulation of LHRH secretion. Morphological studies in rodents have demonstrated that LHRH neurons are innervated by GABA-containing processes, suggesting that LHRH secretion is under direct transsynaptic GABAergic control. While GABA acts through two different receptors, GABAA and GABAB, to exert its effects, it appears that GABAA receptors are able to mediate both inhibitory and stimulatory effects of GABA on LHRH neurons. GABAA receptors are heterooligomeric ligand-gated anion channels that exhibit a diverse array of functional and pharmacological properties. This diversity is determined by the structural heterogeneity of the receptors, which are assembled from the combination of different classes of subunits with multiple isoforms. Although several studies have described the effect of GABAA receptor stimulation on LHRH and/or gonadotropin release in prepubertal animals, nothing is known about the receptor subunits that may be expressed in LHRH neurons at this phase in development. Double immunohistofluorescence followed by confocal laser microscopy revealed that subsets of prepubertal LHRH neurons are endowed with alpha 1, alpha 2, beta 2/3, and gamma 2 GABAA receptor subunits. Combined immunohistochemistry for LHRH neurons and in situ hybridization for GABAA subunit mRNAs confirmed that the genes encoding the alpha 1, alpha 2, beta 3 and gamma 2 subunits, but not the gamma 1 subunit, are expressed in LHRH neurons. Notwithstanding the relative insensitivity of these methods, both the immunohistochemical and hybridization histochemical approaches employed indicate that only a fraction of LHRH neurons are endowed with GABAA receptors. This arrangement suggests that those LHRH neurons bearing the appropriate GABAA receptors are responsible for either the entire secretory response to direct GABAergic inputs or for its initiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / analysis*
  • Hypothalamus / chemistry
  • Hypothalamus / cytology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Neurons / chemistry*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-A / chemistry
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics*
  • Sexual Maturation


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone