Morphological changes of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons in the rat preoptic area across puberty

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Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons in the preoptic area may undergo morphological changes during the pubertal period when their activities are upregulated. To clarify the regulatory mechanism of puberty onset, this study aimed to investigate the morphological changes of GnRH neurons in the preoptic area of GnRH-enhanced green fluorescent protein transgenic rats. Under confocal laser microscopy, pubertal GnRH neurons exhibited an inverted Y distribution pattern. Prepubertal GnRH neurons were generally unipolar and bipolar, and were distinguished as smooth type cells with few small processes or irregular type cells with many spine-like processes in the proximal dendrites. The number of GnRH neurons in the preoptic area and spine-like processes were increased during the course of reproductive maturation. There was no significant difference between male and female rats. Immunofluorescence staining revealed synaptophysin punctae close to the distal end of GnRH neurons, indicating that some presynaptic terminals may form a synaptic linkage with these neurons.

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