Ovarian-Steroid Modulation of Locus Coeruleus Activity in Female Rats: Involvement in Luteinising Hormone Regulation

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Szawka, R. E.
Rodovalho, G. V.
Monteiro, P. M.
Carrer, H. F.
Anselmo-Franci, J. A. [UNIFESP]
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The noradrenergic nucleus locus coeruleus (LC) has been reported to regulate luteinising hormone (LH) secretion in female rats. Both oestrogen and progestin receptors have been demonstrated in LC neurones, suggesting that these cells are possibly responsive to variations in circulating levels of ovarian steroids. We therefore evaluated changes in the activity of LC neurones during the oestrous cycle and after ovarian-steroid treatment in ovariectomised (OVX) rats, as determined by immunoreactivity to Fos-related antigens (FRA), which comprises all of the known members of the Fos family. Effects of ovarian steroids on the firing rate of LC neurones were also determined in a slice preparation. the number of FRA/tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive (ir) neurones in the LC increased from 14.00-16.00 h on pro-oestrus, coinciding with the onset of the LH surge and rise in plasma progesterone. FRA immunoreactivity was unaltered during dioestrus. Oestradiol-treated OVX rats (OVX+E) displayed marked reduction in FRA/TH-ir neurones in LC compared to oil-treated OVX rats. Accordingly, oestradiol superfusion significantly reduced the spontaneous firing rate of LC neurones in slices from OVX rats. Compared to OVX+E, oestradiol-treated rats injected with progesterone at 08.00 h (OVX+EP) exhibited higher number of FRA/TH-ir neurones in the LC at 10.00 h and 16.00 h, and great amplification of the LH surge. Bath application of progesterone significantly increased the spontaneous firing rate of OVX+E LC neurones. Our data suggest that ovarian steroids may physiologically modulate the activity of LC neurones in females, with possible implications for LH secretion. Moreover, oestradiol and progesterone appear to exert opposite and complementary effects (i.e. whereas oestradiol inhibits, progesterone, after oestradiol priming, stimulates LC activity).
Journal of Neuroendocrinology. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc, v. 21, n. 7, p. 629-639, 2009.