Numerous studies of rat pituitaries have reported that inhibin suppresses the synthesis and release of FSH and decreases the release of LH. The latter effect seems to be related to the down-regulation of receptors for GnRH. The studies reported here identified cellular changes behind the inhibitory effects of inhibin on gonadotropes to learn whether its effects are mediated by changes in subtypes of gonadotropes. Cell populations from diestrous day 2 and proestrous (morning) rats were collected, dispersed to single cell populations, and plated in medium containing either recombinant 32-kDa inhibin or porcine follicular fluid for 24 h. GnRH binding was detected by exposing the cells to a biotinylated analog (Bio-GnRH) for 10 min before fixation, followed by avidin-peroxidase labeling protocols to detect the biotin an the analog. In parallel fields, the cells were further identified by immunolabeling for LH or FSH/β-subunits or for GH with a different colored reaction product. The most striking changes were seen in cells from proestrous rats. Inhibin reduced the percentages of Bio-GnRH target cells in the population by 60% and the area and density of Bio-GnRH label on the remaining cells. Inhibin reduced the percentages of FSH cells by 30% and caused nearly a 60% reduction in the binding of Bio-GnRH by this cell type (from 83% of FSH cells to 32% of FSH cells). Inhibin also reduced the area of FSH cells and the density of FSH stores. Inhibin's effects on LH cells were limited to a reduction in the area of the cells and the density of LH stores, but not the number of LH cells. In addition, it reduced the percentages of LH cells with Bio-GnRH receptors from 84% to 40%. When cells with GH were analyzed, inhibin had no effect on their percentages, areas, or GH stores. In populations from proestrous rats, inhibin reduced the percentages of GH cells with Bio-GnRH binding from 38% to 21%. These data suggest that inhibin's target cell is the abundant multihormonal gonadotrope that contains LH, FSH, and GH and predominates during proestrus. Inhibin's effects are most severe on FSH cells, which suggests that it may either selectively affect FSH synthesis and stores in bihormonal gonadotropes and/or affect monohormonal FSH cells. Thus, mechanisms behind its inhibitory effects include 1) a reduction in the percentage of Bio-GnRH target cells, 2) a reduction in the area of Bio-GnRH-binding sites on individual cells, and 3) a reduction in the stores of FSH and the percentages of FSH cells. These last effects are consistent with known reductions in FSH synthesis. The effects of inhibin on LH secretion may be secondary to the effects on Bio-GnRH receptors in bihormonal gonadotropes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas