Female-specific pituitary gonadotrope dysregulation in mice with chronic focal epilepsy

Cathryn A. Cutia, Leanna K. Leverton, Karen E. Weis, Lori T. Raetzman, Catherine A. Christian-Hinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gonadotropin hormone release from the anterior pituitary is critical to regulating reproductive endocrine function. Clinical evidence has documented that people with epilepsy display altered levels of gonadotropin hormones, both acutely following seizures and chronically. Despite this relationship, pituitary function remains a largely understudied avenue in preclinical epilepsy research. Recently, we showed that females in the intrahippocampal kainic acid (IHKA) mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy displayed changes in pituitary expression of gonadotropin hormone and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor genes. Circulating gonadotropin hormone levels, however, have yet to be measured in an animal model of epilepsy. Here, we evaluated the circulating levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), GnRH receptor (Gnrhr) gene expression, and sensitivity to exogenous GnRH in IHKA males and females. Although no changes in overall dynamics of pulsatile patterns of LH release were found in IHKA mice of either sex, estrus vs. diestrus changes in basal and mean LH levels were larger in IHKA females with prolonged, disrupted estrous cycles. In addition, IHKA females displayed increased pituitary sensitivity to GnRH and higher Gnrhr expression. The hypersensitivity to GnRH was observed on diestrus, but not estrus. Chronic seizure severity was not found to be correlated with LH parameters, and FSH levels were unchanged in IHKA mice. These results indicate that although there are changes in pituitary gene expression and sensitivity to GnRH in IHKA females, there may also be compensatory mechanisms that aid in maintaining gonadotropin release in the state of chronic epilepsy in this model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114389
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Estrous cycle
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Sex differences
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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