Peptidases that degrade gonadotropin-releasing hormone: Influence on LH secretion in the ewe

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Several peptidases have been postulated to degrade the hypothalamic peptide gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), but it is not known if such enzymes contribute significantly to the delivery of GnRH to the pituitary in vivo. Furthermore, the activity of GnRH-inactivating peptidases may vary in different reproductive states, such as across the estrous cycle. In the present study, specific fluorescent substrates were used to measure the activity of the two major GnRH-degrading enzymes, prolyl endopeptidase (PEP) and endopeptidase (EP 24.15), in soluble extracts of the median eminentes (ME) of ewes during different phases of the estrous cycle. Levels of EP 24.15 and PEP activity in the ME did not vary significantly across the cycle, although PEP activity was lowest at the time of the preovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. However, a statistically significant decline in PEP activity (18%, P = 0.02) was observed in the ME of OVX ewes in which a surge was induced by estrogen when compared to oil-treated OVX controls, suggesting a possible negative regulation of PEP activity by this steroid. The effect of intracerebroventricular (ICV) infusion of several peptidase inhibitors on the pulsatile release of LH in the conscious OVX ewe was also examined. No consistent changes in the pattern of LH release were observed with ICV infusion of the EP 24.15 inhibitor N-[1(R,S)-carboxy-3-phenylpropyl]-Ala-Ala-Tyr-p-aminobenzoate (cFP-AAY-pAB) or the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor captopril. Similarly, administration of the prolyl endopeptidase inhibitor bacitracin, or a more specific inhibitor of this enzyme, Z-Proprolinal (ZPP), did not alter LH release patterns. The results did not demonstrate a major role for changes in the activity of EP 24.15, PEP, or ACE in altering the pattern of GnRH secretion, but a minor reduction in PEP levels may occur at the time of the estrogen-induced LH surge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-712
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 1997


  • Estrous cycle
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Peptide metabolism
  • Sheep

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