Evidence that γ-Aminobutyric Acid Is Part of the Neural Circuit Mediating Estradiol Negative Feedback in Anestrous Ewes

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Seasonal anestrus in ewes is driven by an increase in response to estradiol (E2) negative feedback. Compelling evidence indicates that inhibitory A15 dopaminergic (DA) neurons mediate the increased inhibitory actions of E2 in anestrus, but these neurons do not contain estrogen receptors. Therefore, we have proposed that estrogen-responsive afferents to A15 neurons are part of the neural circuit mediating E2 negative feedback in anestrus. This study examined the possible role of afferents containing γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and nitric oxide (NO) in modulating the activity of A15 neurons. Local administration of NO synthase inhibitors to the A15 had no effect on LH, but GABA receptor ligands produced dramatic changes. Administration of either a GABAA or GABAB receptor agonist to the A15 increased LH secretion in ovary-intact ewes, suggesting that GABA inhibits A15 neural activity. In ovariectomized anestrous ewes, the same doses of GABA receptor agonist had no effect, but combined administration of a GABAA and GABAB receptor antagonist to the A15 inhibited LH secretion. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that endogenous GABA release within the A15 is low in ovary-intact anestrous ewes and elevated after ovariectomy. Using dual immunocytochemistry, we observed that GABAergic varicosities make close contacts on to A15 neurons and that A15 neurons contain both the GABAA-α1 and the GABAB-R1 receptor subunits. Based on these data, we propose that in anestrous ewes, E2 inhibits release of GABA from afferents to A15 DA neurons, increasing the activity of these DA neurons and thus suppressing episodic secretion of GnRH and LH.

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