Direct action of gonadotropin in brain integrates behavioral and reproductive functions. Academic Article uri icon


  • Essential roles for gonadotropins in gonadal development and reproduction are well established. Over the past decade, however, the expression of luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR) has also been reported in the brain of various mammals and birds. Although suggestive, it has not yet been determined whether this expression pattern supports a novel function for gonadotropins. Here, we demonstrate a CNS-mediated role of gonadotropins in a reproductive behavior: the courtship songs of the South African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis. Male advertisement calling in this species depends on a nongonadal action of gonadotropin. To determine whether this effect is due to action on the CNS, we administered gonadotropin intracerebroventricularly (ICV) or systemically to intact or castrated males with or without concomitant androgen replacement. In intact and androgen-replaced gonadectomized males, gonadotropin significantly increased calling within 1 h after ICV injection. The effective dosage via ICV injections was less than one hundredth of the effective systemic dose. In situ hybridization with a cloned fragment of Xenopus LHR revealed strong expression in ventral forebrain areas important for vocal control. Further, gonadotropin treatment of brain in vitro up-regulates immunoreactivity for the LHR downstream target, egr-1, specifically in these vocal forebrain areas. Up-regulation occurs even when synaptic transmission is suppressed by incubation in Ca2+ free/high magnesium saline. These results demonstrate a neural role for gonadotropin in the control of calling behavior, potentially mediated via LHRs in forebrain vocal nuclei. Gonadotropin may play a novel integrative role in modulating both reproductive physiology and behavior.

publication date

  • February 13, 2007