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To investigate brain-pituitary-gonadal inter-relationships, we have compared the effects of mutations that perturb the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in male mice. Specifically, serum and pituitary gonadotrophin concentrations, gonadotrophin gene expression, and gonadotroph structure and number were measured. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)β knockout (FSHβKO), FSH receptor knockout (FSHRKO), luteinising hormone (LH) receptor knockout (LuRKO), hypogonadal (hpg), testicular feminised (tfm) and gonadectomised mice were compared with control wild-type mice or heterozygotes. Serum levels of LH were similar in FSHβKO, FSHRKO and heterozygote males despite decreased androgen production in KO males. As expected, there was no detectable FSH in the serum or pituitary and an absence of expression of the FSHβ subunit gene in FSHβKO mice. However, there was a significant increase in expression of the common α and LHβ subunit genes in FSHRKO males. The morphology of FSHβKO and FSHRKO gonadotrophs was not significantly different from controls, except that the subpopulation of granules consisting of an electron-dense core and electron-lucent 'halo' was not observed in FSHβKO gonadotrophs and the granules were smaller in diameter. In the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone deficient hpg mouse, gonadotrophin mRNA and hormone levels were significantly lower compared to control mice and gonadotrophs were correspondingly smaller, with less abundant endoplasmic reticulum and reduced secretory granules. In LuRKO, tfm and gonadectomised mice, hyperstimulation of LHβ and FSHβ mRNA and serum protein concentrations was reflected by subcellular changes in gonadotroph morphology, including more dilated rough endoplasmic reticulum and more secretory granules distributed adjacent to the plasma membrane. In summary, major differences in pituitary content and serum concentrations of the gonadotrophins LH and FSH have been found between normal and mutant male mice. These changes are associated with changes in transcriptional activity of the gonadotrophin subunit genes and are reflected by changes in the cellular structure and secretory granule architecture within the gonadotroph cells.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neuroendocrinol

Publication Date





863 - 875


FSH, LH, anterior pituitary, gonadotrophs, ultrastructure, Animals, Base Sequence, DNA Primers, Gene Expression, Male, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Mice, Mutant Strains, Microscopy, Electron, Pituitary Gland, Pituitary Hormones, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction