Estrogen receptor-alpha (ER alpha) levels in gonadotropes are increased during the follicular phase of the ovine estrous cycle, a time of increased frequency of pulsatile secretion of GnRH and elevated plasma estrogen levels. In the present study, our first aim was to determine which of these factors causes the rise in the number of gonadotropes with ER alpha. Ovariectomized hypothalamo-pituitary disconnected ewes (n = 4-6) received the following treatments: 1) no treatment, 2) injection (im) of 50 microg estradiol benzoate (EB), 3) pulses (300 ng iv) of GnRH every 3 h, 4) GnRH treatment as in group 3 and EB treatment as in group 2, 5) increased frequency of GnRH pulses commencing 20 h before termination, and 6) GnRH treatment as in group 5 with EB treatment. These treatments had predictable effects on plasma LH levels. The number of gonadotropes in which ER alpha was present (by immunohistochemistry) was increased by either GnRH treatment or EB injection, but combined treatment had the greatest effect. Immunohistochemistry was also performed to detect phosphorylated cAMP response element binding protein (pCREB) and Fos protein in gonadotropes. The number of gonadotropes with Fos and with pCREB was increased only in group 6. We conclude that either estrogen or GnRH can up-regulate ER alpha in pituitary gonadotropes. On the other hand, during the period of positive feedback action of estrogen, the appearance of pCREB and Fos in gonadotropes requires the combined action of estrogen and increased frequency of GnRH input. This suggests convergence of signaling for GnRH and estrogen.
Clarke, I. J., Tobin, V. A., Pompolo, S., & Pereira, A. M. (2005). Effects of changing gonadotropin-releasing hormone pulse frequency and estrogen treatment on levels of estradiol receptor-alpha and induction of Fos and phosphorylated cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element binding protein in pituitary [...]. Endocrinology, 146(3), 1128 - 1137. https://doi.org/10.1210/en.2004-0980