The mammalian gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH) ortholog, RFamide-related peptide (RFRP), is considered to act on gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and the pituitary to inhibit gonadotropin synthesis and release. However, there is little evidence documenting whether RFamide-related peptide 3 (RFRP-3) plays a primary role in inhibition of the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis prior to the onset of puberty. The present study aimed to understand the functional significance of the neuropeptide on pubertal development. The developmental changes in reproductive-related gene expression at the mRNA level were investigated in the hypothalamus of female mice. The results indicated that RFRP-3 may be an endogenous inhibitory factor for the activation of the HPG axis prior to the onset of puberty. In addition, centrally administered RFRP-3 significantly suppressed plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in prepubertal female mice. Surprisingly, centrally administered RFRP-3 had no effects on plasma LH levels in ovariectomized (OVX) prepubescent female mice. In contrast, RFRP-3 also inhibited plasma LH levels in OVX prepubescent female mice that were treated with 17beta-estradiol replacement. Our study also examined the effects of RFRP-3 on plasma LH release in adult female mice that were ovariectomized at dioestrus, with or without estradiol (E2). Our results showed that the inhibitory effects of RFRP-3 were independent of E2 status. Quantitative real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry analyses showed that RFRP-3 inhibited GnRH expression at both the mRNA and protein levels in the hypothalamus. These data demonstrated that RFRP-3 could effectively suppress pituitary LH release, via the inhibition of GnRH transcription and translation in prepubescent female mice, which is associated with estrogen signaling pathway and developmental stages.
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Vol. 93 • No. 2