Opiatergic influence on gonadotropin-releasing hormone and luteinizing hormone release during the macaque menstrual cycle

K. Y.Francis Pau, Matthew Berria, David L. Hess, Harold G. Spies

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12 Scopus citations


Concomitant fluctuations in median eminence perfusate GnRH and plasma LH occur in rhesus macaques during the periovulatory period and after ovariectomy. The association between GnRH and LH pulses during the follicular and luteal phases of the monkey menstrual cycle is less clearly defined. However, observed LH patterns suggest higher amplitude and slower pulses of GnRH in the luteal than in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. The present studies were planned to compare the GnRH/LH patterns in individual monkeys by simultaneous push-pull perfusion (PPP) and blood sampling during different ovarian steroid milieus. In the initial trial, placement of two push-pull cannulae (PPCs) in the median eminence and a jugular vein catheter caused immediate loss of regular menstrual cycles in 3 monkeys, although cycles resumed over 3-6 mo postoperatively. After the return of normal reproductive cycles, PPP was performed for 12 h on either Day 7, 8, or 9 of the luteal phase. The results showed an unexpected and profound decline in LH and progesterone (P4) concentrations during the initial 4 h. No pulses of LH or P4 were observed in the remaining 8 h. All 3 monkeys exhibited menstrual bleeding 2-3 days after PPP. In subsequent trials, we continuously infused the opioid receptor antagonist nalmefene (Nmf, 1 mg/h, i.v.), starting the fourth day after PPC implantation into 11 monkeys. Menstrual cycles with accompanying fluctuations of circulating estradiol-17β (E2) and P4 returned in less than 40 days in these macaques and continued without further Nmf treatment. Trials of 12-h PPP/blood sampling were performed during the follicular phase with (n = 4) or without (n = 4) Nmf, and during the luteal phase with (n = 6) or without (n = 3) Nmf. Endocrine data from the 3 animals without Nmf during the luteal phase were combined with the hormonal values that were obtained in the initial trial because all 6 animals exhibited similar GnRH, LH, and P4 profiles, i.e., low levels and infrequent or absent pulses. Treatment with Nmf during luteal sampling enhanced hypothalamic GnRH secretion (> 10-fold increase in mean GnRH levels over those without Nmf) and reinitiated distinctive serum LH and P4 pulses. In contrast, patterns of hypothalamic GnRH and serum LH during the follicular phase were similar with or without Nmf treatment. These GnRH/LH profiles consisted of low-amplitude hourly pulses. Collectively, the observations suggest that stress-induced activation of opiatergic neurons can inhibit the GnRH pulse generator and that these neuronal systems are more sensitive to such inhibition in the presence of elevated levels of circulating P4. However, our observation that Nmf accelerated the reinstatement of ovarian cycles after surgery, when circulating E2 and P4 were very low, suggests that GnRH secretions are influenced by activation of different opioid receptor subtypes in response to different stresses. Some of these GnRH/opioid interactions are independent of P4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-484
Number of pages7
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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