Gonadotropin-releasing hormone and NMDA receptor gene expression and colocalization change during puberty in female rats

Andrea C. Gore, T. J. Wu, Jacob J. Rosenberg, James L. Roberts

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137 Scopus citations


During development, an increase in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) release occurs that is critical for the initiation of puberty. This increase is attributable, at least in part, to activation of the GnRH neurosecretory system by inputs from neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, acting via NMDA receptors. We examined changes in GnRH and NMDA-R1 gene expression by RNase protection assay of preoptic area-anterior hypothalamic (POA-AH) dissections of female rats undergoing normal puberty or in which precocious puberty was induced by treatment with the glutamate agonist NMA. GnRH mRNA levels increased significantly throughout normal development; this was accelerated by treatment with NMA. NMDA-R1 mRNA levels increased only between P10 and P20. The acceleration of the elevation in GnRH mRNA levels by NMDA suggests that a stimulation of GnRH gene expression may be a rate-limiting factor for the onset of puberty. This is attributable to a post-transcriptional mechanism because GnRH primary transcript levels, an index of proGnRH gene transcription, were not observed to change during puberty. Alterations in the colocalization of GnRH neurons with the NMDA-R1 subunit during puberty also were assessed immunocytochemically. The percentage of GnRH neurons that double-labeled with NMDA-R1 was 2% in prepubertal rats and 3% in pubertal rats; this increased to 19% in postpubertal rats. Taken together, these studies suggest that an increase in glutamatergic input to GnRH neurons plays a role in the increase in GnRH release and gene expression that occurs at the initiation of puberty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5281-5289
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • GnRH
  • NMDA
  • RNase protection assay
  • immunocytochemistry
  • puberty
  • rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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