Response to the gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist leuprolide in immature female sheep androgenized in utero
Similar to women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), female sheep treated prenatally with testosterone (T-females) are hypergonadotropic, exhibit neuroendocrine defects, multifollicular ovarian morphology, hyperinsulinemia and cycle defects. Hypergonadotropism and multifollicular morphology may in part be due to developmentally regulated increase in pituitary responsiveness to GnRH and may culminate in increased ovarian estradiol production. In this study, we utilized a GnRH agonist, leuprolide, to determine the developmental impact of prenatal testosterone exposure on pituitary-gonadal function and to establish if prenatal exposure produces changes in the reproductive axis similar to those described for women with PCOS. Eight control and eight T-females were injected intravenously with 0.1 mg of leuprolide acetate per kilogram of body weight at 5, 10 and 20 weeks of age. Blood samples were collected by means of an indwelling jugular vein catheter at 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42 and 48 hours after leuprolide. Area under the curve (AUC) of LH response to leuprolide increased progressively between the three ages studied (P<0.05). AUC of LH in T-females was higher than in control females of the same age at 5 and 10 weeks of age (P<0.05), but similar at 20 weeks of age. AUC of estradiol response was lower at 10 but higher at 20 weeks of age in T-females compared to controls of the same age (P<0.05). Our findings suggest that prenatal T treatment alters the pituitary and ovarian responsiveness in a manner comparable to that observed in women with PCOS.