Perifusion of rat pituitary cells with gonadotropin-releasing hormone, activin, and inhibin reveals distinct effects on gonadotropin gene expression and secretion

Jeffrey Weiss*, William F. Crowley, Lisa M. Halvorson, J. Larry Jameson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Gonadotropin biosynthesis and secretion are influenced by pulsatile GnRH derived from the hypothalamus as well as by paracrine factors. In the current studies, we compared the effects of inhibin, activin, and GnRH, alone and in combination, on gunadotropin subunit messenger RNA (mRNA) levels and gonadotropin secretion. A pituitary perifusion system was used to allow GnRH to be administered as pulses and to minimize paracrine effects. FSHβ mRNA levels were increased 25-fold by a maximal concentration of activin (3 ng/ml) and suppressed 83% by a maximal concentration of inhibin (30 ng/ml). When activin and inhibin were perifused together, inhibin attenuated the effects of maximal activin stimulation in a concentration-dependent manner, with a 10-fold excess of inhibin required to block the effects of activin entirely. Whole cell receptor assays using 125I-labeled activin confirmed that the inhibin used in the perifusion experiments competed for activin binding sites, although with a lower affinity. Direct competition at the activin receptor may thus account for part of the activin/inhibin antagonism observed at the level of FSHβ mRNA. Neither activin nor inhibin had a significant effect on levels of LHβ or α mRNAs. Hourly pulses of 10 nM GnRH elicited a 2- to 5-fold increase in FSHβ mRNA. This increment was maintained in the presence of activin and inhibin, suggesting separate, but dependent, mechanisms of action for GnRH vs. inhibin and activin. In studies of secretion, continuous activin stimulation (3 ng/ml) elicited only a small (∼30%) increase in nasal FSH secretion. However, the response of FSH to pulses of GnRH was amplified 3-fold in the presence of activin. A similar enhancement of GnRH-induced, but not basal, LH release was also observed. Inhibin, in contrast, elicited no changes in basal or GnRH-stimulated release of FSH or LH. We conclude that activin and inhibin are the primary regulators of FSHβ mRNA levels, whereas GnRH appears to be the major effector for gonadotropin secretion. There is significant functional overlap, however, and the combined actions of activin, inhibin, and GnRH determine the final level of FSHβ mRNA and the pattern of gonadotropin secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2307-2311
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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