The current dogma is that the differential regulation of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) synthesis and secretion is modulated by gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) pulse frequency and by changes in inhibins, activins, and follistatins both at the pituitary and at the peripheral level. To date no studies have looked at the overlapping function of these regulators in a combined setting. We tested the hypothesis that changes in GnRH pulse frequency alter the relative abundance of these regulators at the pituitary and peripheral levels in a manner consistent with changes in pituitary and circulating concentrations of FSH; that is, an increase in FSH will be accompanied by increased stimulatory input (activin) and/or reduced follistatin and inhibin. Ovariectomized ewes were subjected to a combination hypothalamic pituitary disconnection (HPD)-hypophyseal portal blood collection procedure. Hypophyseal portal and jugular blood samples were collected for a 6-h period from non-HPD ewes, HPD ewes, or HPD ewes administered GnRH hourly or every 3 h for 4 days. In the absence of endogenous hypothalamic and ovarian hormones that regulate gonadotropin secretion, 3-hourly pulses of GnRH increased pituitary content of FSH more than hourly GnRH, although these differences were not evident in the peripheral circulation. The results failed to support the hypothesis in that the preferential increase of pituitary content of FSH by the lower GnRH pulse frequency could be explained by changes in the pituitary content of inhibin A, follistatin, or activin B. Perhaps the effects of GnRH pulse frequency on FSH is due to changes in the balance of free versus bound amounts of these FSH regulatory proteins or to the involvement of other regulators not monitored in this study.
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Vol. 86 • No. 6