Developmental changes in the mammalian gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH) ortholog RFamide-related peptide (RFRP) and its cognate receptor GPR147 in the rat hypothalamus
The mammalian gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH) ortholog RFamide-related peptide (RFRP) is considered to act on gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and on the pituitary to inhibit gonadotropin release and synthesis. To understand the functional significance of this neuropeptide, we investigated the physiological changes in RFRP at mRNA and peptide levels, as well as at the mRNA level of its cognate receptor, G protein-coupled receptor 147 (GPR147), in the rat hypothalamus during development. We also investigated the effects of gonadal steroids on mRNA expression levels of these molecules. In male rats, mRNA expressions of both RFRP and GPR147 increased from postnatal days 12 and 16, peaking at postnatal days 35 and 42, respectively. However, their expressions fell at postnatal day 49. In female rats, mRNA expression of RFRP continued to increase throughout development; mRNA expression of GPR147 in female rats increased from postnatal day 16, peaking at postnatal day 28, but decreased from postnatal day 35. The hypothalamic contents of RFRP on postnatal days 28 and 42 were significantly higher than on postnatal day 4 in male rats, and those on postnatal day 42 were significantly higher than those on postnatal days 4 and 28 in females. Neither orchidectomy nor ovariectomy influenced mRNA expression levels of RFRP or GPR147 in the prepubertal period when endogenous sex steroid levels were low in males and females. Administration of estradiol-17β (E2) increased mRNA expression of RFRP in prepubertal females. These results suggest that the hypothalamic RFRP system changes during development. An ovarian sex steroid, E2, may stimulate mRNA expression of RFRP in the prepubertal period when the basal E2 concentration is low.