Seasonal changes in the inputs to gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurones in the ewe brain: An assessment by conventional fluorescence and confocal microscopy

Sueli Pompolo, Alda M Pereira, T Kaneko, Iain James Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


The seasonal pattern of breeding in sheep offers an opportunity to examine plasticity of neuronal inputs to gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurones. We used conventional fluorescence microscopy and confocal microscopy to compare the extent of input to GnRH neurones from various neuropeptide/neurotransmitter systems in ewes during the breeding and anestrous seasons. Using double-labelling immunohistochemistry, we counted close appositions between GnRH cells and varicosities that were immunoreactive for either glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD; for gamma-amino butyric acid-GABA-neurones), dopamine beta hydroxylase (DBH; for noradrenergic neurones), vesicular glutamate transporter-1 (VGluT-1, for glutamatergic neurones), neuropeptide Y (NPY) and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH; for dopaminergic/noradrenergic neurones). The percentage of GnRH cells displaying close appositions to GABA-ergic varicosities was higher (P <0.02) in anestrus than in the breeding season. The percentage of GnRH cells receiving input from varicosities that were positive for TH, DBH and VGluT-1 was similar in both seasons. Approximately 26-49 of GnRH neurones were seen to receive inputs from NPY, TH, GABAergic or noradrenergic neurones, while a larger number of GnRH cells (72-75 ) received input from glutamatergic neurones. Conventional microscopy consistently overestimated the number of close contacts on GnRH neurones compared to confocal microscopy. For TH-immunoreactive varicosities in the preoptic area, only 16-35 were also immunoreactive for DBH, suggesting that the remainder are dopaminergic. Approximately half of the noradrenergic inputs in the preoptic area were also immunoreactive for NPY. In conclusion, we present numerical data on the consensus between light and confocal microscopy and the level of input of various neuronal systems to GnRH cells; the data indicate a seasonal change in the GABAergic input to GnRH neurones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538 - 545
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

Cite this