Evidence that Dopaminergic Neurons are not Involved in the Negative Feedback Effect of Testosterone on Luteinizing Hormone in Rams in the Non‐Breeding Season

A. J. Tilbrook, I. J. Clarke

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In this study we tested the hypothesis that the negative feedback effects by testosterone on the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) in rams involves dopaminergic afferents to gonadotrophin‐releasing hormone neurons operating via D2 receptors in the non‐breeding season. In the first experiment, three groups (n = 5) of rams were treated with an intravenous injection of vehicle or 10 or 20 mg of the dopaminergic D2 antagonist pimozide and jugular venous samples were collected every 10 min for 3 h before and 3 h following treatment. The plasma was assayed for LH. Three groups of ewes (n = 4 to 5) were similarly treated. There were no significant effects of treatment of the rams with pimozide on the plasma concentrations of LH or LH pulse frequency or pulse amplitude and the response of individual rams in each group was inconsistent. In contrast, treatment of the ewes with 20 mg pimozide significantly (P<0.001) increased the mean (± SEM) plasma LH concentrations (pretreatment 0.37 ± 0.04; post‐treatment 2.42±0.25 ng/ml) and decreased (P<0.001) the LH inter‐pulse interval (pretreatment 180.0; post‐treatment 88.0±11.1 min); the 10 mg dose of pimozide did not affect these parameters. In the second experiment, two groups of rams (n = 5) and ewes (n = 7) were treated with an intravenous injection of vehicle or 0.33 mg pimozide/kg liveweight and jugular venous samples were collected every 10 min for 2 h before and 6 h following treatment. As in the first experiment, the mean (± SEM) concentrations of plasma LH were not affected by treatment with pimozide in the rams (pretreatment 0.18 ± 0.25; post‐treatment 0.43 ± 0.14 ng/ml) but were significantly (P<0.05) increased in the ewes (pretreatment 1.12±0.22; post‐treatment 1.93 ± 0.23 ng/ml). In the third experiment, four adult rams were castrated and 3 weeks later each animal had two cannulae inserted to allow injection into the lateral cerebral ventricles. Vehicle or 100 μg pimozide was injected intracerebroventricularly and blood samples were collected as in the other experiments. A Latin Square design was used so that each animal received each treatment (n = 4). This procedure was repeated after the animals had been injected (intramuscularly) with 16 mg testosterone propionate twice daily for at least 7 days. Treatment with testosterone propionate significantly decreased (P < 0.001) the plasma concentrations of LH (pre‐treatment 7.71±0.27; post‐treatment 0.75 ± 0.27 ng/ml; mean ± SEM) and follicle‐stimulating hormone (pre‐treatment 79.61±8.47; post‐treatment 42.53 ± 6.08 ng/ml; mean ± SEM) and increased the mean (± SEM) LH inter‐pulse interval (53.14 ± 3.58 min pre‐treatment and 292.5 ± 32.94 min post‐treatment) but had no effect on the amplitude of LH pulses (pre‐treatment 3.61 ± 0.36; post‐treatment 1.86±1.76 ng; mean ± SEM). Pimozide had no effect on the plasma concentrations of gonadotrophins. These results suggest that, in the ram, dopaminergic neurons do not influence the gonadotrophin‐releasing hormone neurons via D2 receptors in the non‐breeding season and are not involved in the negative feedback effect of testosterone on the secretion of gonadotrophins. Conversely, our data suggest that such a mechanism is integral to the negative feedback effects of oestradiol on LH in anoestrous ewes. Finally, it also appears that the steroid‐independent suppression of the secretion of gonadotrophins during the non‐breeding season in rams is not mediated via D2 receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-374
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • dopaminergic neurons
  • luteinizing hormone
  • negative feedback
  • ram
  • season

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