Reproduction and Physiology

Correspondence of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone Secretion during Suckling in Postpartum Cows

  • Lloyd L. Anderson (Iowa State University)


The hypothalamus in the lower part of the brain contains neurons that produce a small peptide, gonadotropin- releasing hormone (GnRH, LHRH), that regulates luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion by the anterior pituitary gland. Important functions of LH include induction of ovulation in preovulatory follicles during estrus and the luteinization of granulosa cells lining those collapsed follicles to form corpora lutea that produce progesterone during the luteal phase of the estrous cycle or during pregnancy. The production of progesterone by the corpus luteum conveys a negative feed-back action at the central nervous system (CNS) for further episodic secretion of GnRH and in turn, LH secretion. Gonadal removal (i.e., ovariectomy) allows a greater amount of LH secretion to occur during a prolonged period. The objectives of this study were to characterize the pattern of GnRH secretion in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of the bovine third ventricle region of the hypothalamus, determine its correspondence with the tonic and surge release of LH in ovariectomized cows, and examine the dynamics of GnRH pulse release activity in response to known modulators of LH release (suckling, neuropeptide-Y [NPY]). In ovariectomized cows, both tonic release patterns and estradiol-induced surges of GnRH and LH were highly correlated. A 500-microgram dose of NPY caused an immediate cessation of LH pulses and decreased plasma concentrations of LH for at least 4 hours. This corresponded with a decrease in both GnRH pulse amplitude and frequency. In anestrous cows, GnRH pulse frequency did not change before and 48 to 54 hours after weaning on day 18 postpartum, but GnRH concentration and amplitudes of GnRH pulses increased in association with weaning and heightened secretion of LH. It is clear that high-frequency, highamplitude pulses of LH are accompanied by similar patterns of GnRH in CSF of adult cattle. Yet strong inhibitors of LH pulsatility, putatively acting at the level of the central nervous system (i.e., suckling) or at both the central nervous system and pituitary (NPY) levels, produced periods of discordance between GnRH and LH pulses.

Keywords: ASL R1651

How to Cite:

Anderson, L. L., (2000) “Correspondence of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone Secretion during Suckling in Postpartum Cows”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 1(1).

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Published on
01 Jan 2000
Peer Reviewed