Organizational actions of postnatal estradiol in female sheep treated prenatally with testosterone: programming of prepubertal neuroendocrine function and the onset of puberty.
ABSTRACT Prenatal testosterone (T) exposure defeminizes reproductive neuroendocrine function in female sheep, although the LH surge dysfunctions are initially less severe in gonadally intact females than in females subject to neonatal ovariectomy and estradiol (E) replacement. Because prepubertal ovarian production of E differs quantitatively and qualitatively from chronic E replacement, we tested the hypothesis that postnatal E exacerbates the consequences of prenatal T on the positive, but not the negative, steroid feedback controls of GnRH secretion. Our approach was to characterize prepubertal sensitivity to E negative feedback, the onset and maintenance of progestagenic cycles, and the LH surge response in ovary intact, prenatally untreated (control), and T-treated (T) sheep that were exposed postnatally to only endogenous E, or exposed to excess E by s.c. implant. Sensitivity to E negative feedback was reduced in T females, but excess postnatal E did not further increase LH pulse frequency. Excess E prevented ovarian cycles in several control females, and increased cycle irregularity in T females. However, the LH surge mechanism was functional in all control females (regardless of postnatal E exposure) and in some T females without excess E, but nonfunctional in T females with excess E. These findings suggest that postnatal E does not program increased resistance to E negative feedback, but excess postnatal E does disrupt other mechanisms required for ovarian cyclicity. We conclude that in this precocial species, prenatal steroids are sufficient to program controls of tonic LH secretion, but the LH surge mechanism is susceptible to further programming by postnatal E.
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ABSTRACT: As steroids and steroid-like compounds accumulate in the environment, it has become important to understand how low-dose exposure affects reproductive function. Ovary-intact sheep were used in a multigenerational study, to determine whether chronic exposure to low levels of estrogen disrupts reproductive function and behavior. We assessed parameters of reproductive performance in control and postnatally estradiol-treated females (Generation 1, G1), and their offspring (Generation 2, G2). In the G1 animals, 17beta-estradiol (E) was administered continuously from 4 wk of age at two doses via subcutaneous implants (ultralow E [<1 pg/ml in circulation, n = 8] or low E [1-3 pg/ml, n = 8]). Both doses delayed puberty; low E also produced pronounced prepubertal and seasonal anestrus hypogonadotropism, and delayed the onset of the second breeding season. All G1 animals conceived and produced offspring (G2), the treatment of which resulted from continuous maternal exposure during pregnancy and lactation. Behavioral observations of G2 females revealed that low prenatal E modestly masculinized play behavior and increased the frequency of attempts to displace competitors relative to ultralow E and control animals. The timing and magnitude of the LH surge also differed in prepubertal low prenatal E females relative to the controls, although these differences were not evident when retested at one year of age. These findings support the hypothesis that chronic exposure to physiologic amounts of exogenous estrogens has multigenerational effects on behavior and neuroendocrine function. Despite these disruptive steroid actions, ovarian cyclicity and fertility are not invariably compromised, pointing to an impressive resiliency of the reproductive axis to insult by exogenous estrogenic compounds.Biology of Reproduction 01/2007; 75(6):844-52. · 4.03 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Prenatal testosterone (T) excess during midgestation leads to estrous cycle defects and polycystic ovaries in sheep. We hypothesized that follicular persistence causes polycystic ovaries and that cyclic progesterone (P) treatment would overcome follicular persistence and restore cyclicity. Twice-weekly blood samples for P measurements were taken from control (C; n = 16) and prenatally T-treated (T60; n = 14; 100 mg T, im, twice weekly from d 30-90 of gestation) Suffolk sheep starting before the onset of puberty and continuing through the second breeding season. A subset of C and T60 sheep were treated cyclically with a modified controlled internal drug-releasing device for 13-14 d every 17 d during the first anestrus (CP, 7; TP, 6). Transrectal ovarian ultrasonography was performed for 8 d in the first and 21 d in the second breeding season. Prenatal T excess reduced the number, but increased the duration of progestogenic cycles, reduced the proportion of ewes with normal cycles, increased the proportion of ewes with subluteal cycles, decreased the proportion of ewes with ovulatory cycles, induced the occurrence of persistent follicles, and reduced the number of corpora lutea in those that cycled. Cyclic P treatment in anestrus, which produced one third the P concentration seen during luteal phase of cycle, did not reduce the number of persistent follicles, but increased the number of progestogenic cycles while reducing their duration. These findings suggested that follicular persistence might contribute to the polycystic ovarian morphology. Cyclic P treatment was able to only partially restore follicular dynamics, but this may be related to the low replacement concentrations of P achieved.Endocrinology 05/2006; 147(4):1997-2007. · 4.72 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Sexual differences in the regulation of tonic luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion were examined in immature female and male sheep (eight each, including six pairs of female/male twins). After gonadectomy of lambs at 2 weeks of age, Silastic capsules filled with estradiol, a primary central feedback steroid in both females and males, were implanted every 3 weeks for 3 days, and then removed, so that the pattern of LH secretion could be repeatedly determined in the same individuals both with and without steroid feedback. Implanted capsules yielded circulating steroid levels of 2-5 pg/ml. Circulating LH concentrations were determined by radioimmunoassay in blood samples collected at 12-min intervals for 4 h immediately before estradiol was implanted, and again, immediately before it was removed 3 days later. In male lambs, a decrease in responsiveness of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis to inhibition by estradiol began at 8-11 weeks, as evidenced by the progressive increase in mean LH concentrations and frequency of LH pulses. This correlated temporally with the onset of spermatogenesis in intact male controls (n = 8). In females, a similar decrease in responsiveness did not occur until 26-29 weeks of age, corresponding to the onset of ovulatory cycles in intact female controls (n = 6). In the absence of estradiol implants, LH pulse frequencies were higher in male lambs than in female lambs between 5 and 35 weeks of age. There was no further increase in LH pulse frequency in the absence of the gonads in either sex during the pubertal period. These findings suggest that the mechanism regulating tonic LH secretion in developing lambs is sexually differentiated in its responsiveness to inhibition by estradiol. This differentiation also occurs at a more fundamental steroid-independent level, but any causal relationship between the higher steroid-independent LH pulse frequency and the lower responsiveness to estradiol negative feedback in males is not evident. We hypothesize that these sexual differences in the regulation of tonic LH underlie the difference in the timing of puberty in male and female lambs.Endocrinology 03/1990; 126(2):1206-15. · 4.72 Impact Factor