Estradiol and the inhibition of hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone pulse generator activity in the rhesus monkey

Tamás Ördög, Ernst Knobil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In mammals, gonadal function is controlled by a hypothalamic signal generator that directs the pulsatile release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and the consequent pulsatile secretion of luteinizing hormone. In female rhesus monkeys, the electrophysiological correlates of GnRH pulse generator activity are abrupt, rhythmic increases in hypothalamic multiunit activity (MUA volleys), which represent the simultaneous increase in firing rate of individual neurons. MUA volleys are arrested by estradiol, either spontaneously at midcycle or after the administration of the steroid. Multiunit recordings, however, provide only a measure of total neuronal activity, leaving the behavior of the individual cells obscure. This study was conducted to determine the mode of action of estradiol at the level of single neurons associated with the GnRH pulse generator. Twenty-three such single units were identified by cluster analysis of multiunit recordings obtained from a total of six electrodes implanted in the mediobasal hypothalamus of three ovariectomized rhesus monkeys, and their activity was monitored before and after estradiol administration. The bursting of all 23 units was arrested within 4 h of estradiol administration although their baseline activity was maintained. The bursts of most units reappeared at the same time as the MUA volleys, the recovery of some was delayed, and one remained inhibited for the duration of the study (43 days). The results indicate that estradiol does not desynchronize the bursting of single units associated with the GnRH pulse generator but that it inhibits this phenomenon. The site and mechanism of action of estradiol in this regard remain to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5813-5816
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jun 20 1995


  • desynchronization
  • luteinizing hormone surge
  • single-unit activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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