Interactions between brain IGF-I receptors and estrogen receptors regulate female reproductive physiology and behavior. The present study investigated potential mechanisms by which IGF-I receptors in the neuroendocrine hypothalamus regulate GnRH neuronal activation and LH release in young and middle-aged female rats under estradiol (E2) positive feedback conditions. We infused vehicle, IGF-I, or JB-1, a selective antagonist of IGF-I receptors, into the third ventricle of ovariectomized female rats primed with E2 and progesterone or vehicle. In young females, blockade of IGF-I receptors attenuated the steroid hormone-induced LH surge, reduced the percent of GnRH neurons expressing c-fos on the day of the LH surge, and decreased the total number of neurons expressing c-fos in the preoptic area. Middle-aged females had fewer GnRH neurons expressing c-fos during the LH surge than young females, and the LH surge amplitude was attenuated. Infusion of an IGF-I dose previously shown to increase LH surge amplitude did not increase the percent of GnRH neurons expressing c-fos in middle-aged females. Brain IGF-I receptor blockade did not modify E2 induction of progestin receptor-immunoreactive neurons in the preoptic area, arcuate, or ventromedial hypothalamus of young rats. These findings indicate that brain IGF-I receptors are required for E2 activation of Gn RH neurons in young rats and for robustGnRHrelease from axon terminals in middle-aged females. IGF-I likely exerts its effects by actions on E2-sensitive neurons that are upstream of GnRH neurons and terminals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas