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  • GnRH neurons of young and aged female rhesus monkeys co-express GPER but are unaffected by long-term hormone replacement.

GnRH neurons of young and aged female rhesus monkeys co-express GPER but are unaffected by long-term hormone replacement.

Neuroendocrinology (2014-11-28)
Michelle M Naugle, Andrea C Gore
ABSTRACT

Menopause is caused by changes in the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis that controls reproduction. Hypophysiotropic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons in the hypothalamus orchestrate the activity of this axis and are regulated by hormonal feedback loops. The mechanisms by which GnRH responds to the primary regulatory sex steroid hormone, estradiol (E2), are still poorly understood in the context of menopause. Our goal was to determine whether the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) is co-expressed in adult primate GnRH neurons and whether this changes with aging and/or E2 treatment. We used immunofluorescence double-labeling to characterize the co-expression of GPER in GnRH perikarya and terminals in the hypothalamus. Young and aged rhesus macaques were ovariectomized and given long-term (~2-year) hormone treatments (E2, E2 + progesterone, or vehicle) selected to mimic currently prescribed hormone replacement therapies used for the alleviation of menopausal symptoms in women. We found that about half of GnRH perikarya co-expressed GPER, while only about 12% of GnRH processes and terminals in the median eminence (ME) were double-labeled. Additionally, many GPER-labeled processes were in direct contact with GnRH neurons, often wrapped around the perikarya and processes and in close proximity in the ME. These results extend prior work by showing robust co-localization of GPER in GnRH in a clinically relevant model, and they support the possibility that GPER-mediated E2 regulation of GnRH occurs both in the soma and terminals in nonhuman primates.

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