Input from the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) to gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons is critical to the occurrence of regular cyclic GnRH secretion. It is thought that an essential neuropeptide in the SCN that communicates this cyclic information to GnRH neurons is vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and that it may act through cAMP. We tested the hypothesis that (1) aging involves a blunting of cAMP diurnal rhythmicity in the SCN; (2) administration of antisense oligonucleotides (anti-oligos) against VIP, which produces an aging-like pattern in VIP, would lead to an aging-like suppression of cAMP; and (3) this in turn would lead to inhibition of the steroid-induced activation of GnRH neurons. We measured cAMP concentrations in the SCN and rostral preoptic nucleus throughout the day in young and middle-aged rats that were ovariectomized (OVX) or OVX and treated with estradiol. Our results show that cAMP concentrations exhibit a diurnal rhythm in young rats, and that this rhythm is totally abolished by the time rats are middle age. Administration of antisense oligonucleotides against VIP or random oligos suppresses VIP concentrations and abolishes the cAMP rhythm, leading to significantly reduced activation of GnRH neurons. Together, these findings strongly suggest that the SCN conveys diurnal information to GnRH neurons by driving VIP-dependent cAMP rhythms. In addition, aging involves deterioration in this VIP-driven rhythmicity, which impacts the ability of steroids to induce GnRH neuronal activation.
- Medial preoptic area
- Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide
ASJC Scopus subject areas