A switch in the balance of estradiol feedback actions from negative to positive initiates the GnRH surge, triggering the LH surge that causes ovulation. Using an ovariectomized, estradiol-treated (OVX+E) mouse model that exhibits daily switches between negative in the morning and positive feedback in the evening, we investigated the roles of fast synaptic transmission in regulating GnRH neuron firing during negative and positive feedback. Targeted extracellular recordings were used to monitor activity of GnRH neurons from OVX+E and OVX mice in control solution or solution with antagonists to both ionotropic glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid receptors (blockade). Blockade had no effect on activity of OVX cells. In contrast, in OVX+E cells in the morning, blockade increased activity compared with control cells, whereas in the evening, blockade decreased activity. In vivo barbiturate sedation of OVX+E mice that blocked LH surge induction prevented the in vitro evening changes in firing rate and response to blockade. These observations suggest at least partial inversion of the negative-to-positive switch in estradiol feedback action and indicate that changes in fast synaptic transmission to GnRH neurons and within the network of cells presynaptic to GnRH neurons are critical for mediating estradiol negative and positive feedback actions on GnRH neurons. Fast synaptic transmission may also affect GnRH neuron activity indirectly through altering release of excitatory and inhibitory neuromodulators onto GnRH neurons at specific times of day. Fast synaptic transmission is thus critical for proper generation and timing of the GnRH surge.
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