Unlike classic gonadotropin-releasing hormone 1 (GNRH1), the second mammalian isoform (GNRH2) is an ineffective stimulant of gonadotropin release. Species that produce GNRH2 may not maintain a functional GNRH2 receptor (GNRHR2) due to coding errors. A full-length GNRHR2 gene has been identified in swine, but its role in reproduction requires further elucidation. Our objective was to examine the role of GNRH2 and GNRHR2 in testicular function of boars. We discovered that GNRH2 levels were higher in the testis than in the anterior pituitary gland or hypothalamus, corresponding to greater GNRHR2 abundance in the testis versus the anterior pituitary gland. Moreover, GNRH2 immunostaining was most prevalent within seminiferous tubules, whereas GNRHR2 was detected in high abundance on Leydig cells. GNRH2 pretreatment of testis explant cultures elicited testosterone secretion similar to that of human chorionic gonadotropin stimulation. Treatment of mature boars with GNRH2 elevated testosterone levels similar to those of GNRH1-treated males, despite minimal GNRH2-induced release of luteinizing hormone (LH). When pretreated with a GNRHR1 antagonist (SB-75), subsequent GNRH2 treatment stimulated low levels of testosterone secretion despite a pattern of LH release similar to that in the previous trial, suggesting that SB-75 inhibited testicular GNRHR2s. Given that pigs lack testicular GNRHR1, these data may indicate that GNRH2 and its receptor are involved in autocrine or paracrine regulation of testosterone secretion. Notably, our data are the first to suggest a biological function of a novel GNRH2-GNRHR2 system in the testes of swine.
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Vol. 93 • No. 2