Atrazine (ATR) is a commonly used pre-emergence/early postemergence herbicide. Previous work has shown that exposure to high doses of ATR in rats results in blunting of the hormone-induced luteinizing hormone (LH) surge and inhibition of pulsatile LH release without significantly reducing pituitary sensitivity to a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. Accompanying the reduction in the LH surge was an attenuation of GnRH neuronal activation. These findings suggest that ATR exposure may be acting to inhibit GnRH release. In this study, we examined GnRH directly to determine the effect of high doses of ATR on GnRH pulsatile release, gene expression, and peptide levels in the female rat. Ovariectomized adult female Wistar rats were treated with ATR (200 mg/kg) or vehicle for 4 days via gavage. Following the final treatment, GnRH release was measured from ex vivo hypothalamic explants for 3 h. In another experiment, animals were administered either vehicle or ATR (50, 100, or 200 mg/kg) daily for 4 days. Following treatment, in situ hybridization was performed to examine total GnRH mRNA and the primary GnRH heterogeneous nuclear RNA transcript. Finally, GnRH immunoreactivity and total peptide levels were measured in hypothalamic tissue of treated animals. ATR treatment resulted in no changes to GnRH gene expression, peptide levels, or immunoreactivity but a reduction in GnRH pulse frequency and an increased pulse amplitude. These findings suggest that ATR acts to inhibit the secretory dynamics of GnRH pulses without interfering with GnRH mRNA and protein synthesis.
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Vol. 88 • No. 1