GnIH was first identified in avian species, and there is now strong evidence that it is operant in mammals as an inhibitor of reproduction. Mammalian gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH)-3 is encoded by the RFRP gene in neurons of the dorsomedial nucleus. These neurons project to the median eminence, predicting a role as a secreted neurohormone and regulation of the pituitary gonadotropes. To determine whether GnIH-3 is a secreted neurohormone, we measured its concentration in hypophyseal portal blood in ewes during the nonbreeding (anestrous) season and during the luteal and follicular phases of the estrous cycle in the breeding season. Paired portal and jugular blood samples were collected and plasma prepared for RIA using an ovine GnIH-3 antibody. Pulsatile GnIH-3 secretion was observed in the portal blood of all animals. Mean GnIH-3 pulse amplitude and pulse frequency was higher during the nonbreeding season. GnIH-3 was virtually undetectable in peripheral blood plasma. There was a lack of association between secretory pulses of GnIH-3 (portal) and LH (peripheral). To determine the role of secreted GnIH-3, we examined its effects on GnRH-stimulated LH secretion in hypothalamo-pituitary-disconnected ewes; a significant reduction in the LH response to GnRH was observed. Finally, to identify cellular targets in the pituitary, the expression of GnIH receptor [G protein-coupled receptor 147 (GPR147)] in fractions enriched for gonadotropes somatotropes, and lactotropes was examined; expression was observed in each cell type. These data show GnIH-3 is secreted into portal blood to act on pituitary gonadotropes, reducing the action of GnRH.
Smith, J. T., Young, I. R., Veldhuis, J. D., & Clarke, I. J. (2012). Gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH) secretion into the ovine hypophyseal portal system. Endocrinology, 153(7), 3368 - 3375. https://doi.org/10.1210/en.2012-1088