The effect of sex steroids on pituitary responsiveness to gonadotropin releasing hormone

Aliza Eshkol, B. Lunenfeld, V. Insler

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6 Scopus citations


Gonadotropin secretion is controlled mainly by feedback effects of gonadal steroids at hypothalamic sites. The existence of a regulatory role of gonadal steroids at the pituitary has also been suggested. Results obtained with exogenous steroids as reflected by pituitary responsiveness to GnRH are, however, contradictory. Discrepancies can be attributed to types of steroids administered, doses used and the impossibility to distinguish between the effect on the pituitary from that on the hypothalamus. To overcome the above limitations, the effect of endogenous steroids on pituitary response to a standard dose of GnRH (Ayerst) was investigated in primary amenorrheic patients with isolated hypothalamic failure. The effect of GnRH was investigated under various steroidal environments obtained during cycles induced by exogenous gonadotropins. In the first phase (in the absence of ovarian steroids) GnRH evoked an increase in both LH and FSH. In the second phase, when the endogenous level of estradiol was high. GnRH did not induce an FSH release. Elevation of LH secretion began at the same time as in the first phase but was prolonged and reached higher values-coinciding with the first observed increase in plasma progesterone. In the third phase, the luteal phase (high estrogen and progesterone levels), GnRH failed to elicit either LH or FSH release. It seems therefore that estrogens sensitize the pituitary to respond to GnRH with a selective augmented LH secretion. Steroidal environment of the luteal phase diminishes the pituitary responsiveness to GnRH with respect to both FSH and LH release. It can thus be postulated that steroids can modulate pituitary responsiveness to hypothalamic stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1061-1066
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1975
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The GnRH preparationw as kindly suppliedb y Ayerst ResearchL aboratoriesM, ontreal,C anada.T he reagentsfo r the radioimmunossayosf humanF SH and LH wereg ener-ously providedb y the National Pituitary Agency( University of Maryland, School of Medicine) Endocrine Study Sectiona nd National Instituteo f Arthritis and Metabolic DiseasesT. he reagentsf or radioimmunossayosf rat FSH and LH werem adea vailableto us throughth e generosity of Dr. A. Parlow for the Rat Pituitary Hormone Distribution Program NIH. The skilful performanceo f the in vitro studiesw ith the rat pituitariesb y Mr. A. Ben-Michaeli s greatlya ppreciated.


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