Neuropeptide Y regulation of LHRH release in the median eminence: Immunocytochemical and physiological evidence in hens

A. M. Contijoch, S. Malamed, J. K. McDonald, J. P. Advis

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41 Scopus citations


It has been suggested that hypothalamic median eminence (ME) might be a control site for luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) release. Thus, stimulatory and/or inhibitory inputs acting at this site might be involved in regulating LHRH release from the ME and, therefore, luteinizing hormone (LH) release from the anterior pituitary. Since a role for neuropeptide Y (NPY) on LH release has been suggested, we have hypothesized that NPY might act in the ME to control preovulatory LHRH release in hens. To examine this possibility we have detrmined: (a) the immunocytochemical distribution of LHRH and NPY in the ME of the hen, (b) the basal and NPY-stimulated release of LHRH in vitro from the ME of hens undergoing a natural or a premature preovulatory surge of LH, and (c) the tissue content of LHRH and NPY in microdissected MEs, at various times before and during a natural or a premature preovulatory surge of LH. A potential role for NPY on LHRH release in the ME is suggested for the following reasons. (a) There are opportunities for synaptic interactions between NPY and LHRH-containing axons at this site. LHRH-containing cell bodies localized in the anterior hypothalamus/medial preoptic area project to the ME. NPY-containing perikarya, concentrated in the ventromedial aspect of the arcuate nucleus, might contact LHRH processes going to the ME and/or might themselves send axons to the ME, (b) Addition of NPY to the incubation media increases LHRH release from microdissected ME tissue of hens killed at the time of the natural preovulatory surge of LH, but not in hens killed 7 h before the occurrence of this surge. However, the stimulatory effect of NPY on LHRH release can be induced at this latter time when a premature LH surge is elicited. While the natural preovulatory surge of LH occurs 4 h before the second ovulation in a sequence (C2 ovulation), administration of progesterone (P4) 10-14 h before the expected natural C2 ovulation advances the natural LH surge by 7-8 h. Thus, NPY might act as a physiological stimulus of LHRH release at the ME during the preovulatory surge of LH. This is suggested since in vitro basal LHRH release from denervated ME tissue does not change before and during the natural or the premature LH surge. Therefore, preovulatory release of LHRH in vivo might be under a continuous drive from stimulatory inputs to the LHRH neuron and NPY might be one of these stimulating factors. (c) An acute preovulatory decrease in ME-NPY tissue content is consistent with its putative role on preovulatory LHRH release. During both the natural and the premature preovulatory period, NPY content reaches nadir values at the time of the LH surge, which occurs 7-8 h earlier in the premature than in the natural model. In conclusion, NPY might be acting at the median eminence as a physiological stimulus for preovulatory LHRH release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-145
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • immunocytochemistry
  • luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone
  • median eminence
  • neuropeptide Y


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