Does cortisol mediate endotoxin-induced inhibition of pulsatile luteinizing hormone and gonadotropin-releasing hormone secretion?
Debus, N.; Breen, K. M.; Barrell, Graham K.; Billings, H. J.; Brown, M.; Young, E. A.; Karsch, F. J.
Bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide), a commonly used model of immune/inflammatory stress, inhibits reproductive neuroendocrine activity and concurrently induces a profound stimulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. We employed two approaches to test the hypothesis that enhanced secretion of cortisol mediates endotoxin-induced suppression of pulsatile GnRH and LH secretion in the ovariectomized ewe. First, we mimicked the endotoxin-induced increase in circulating cortisol by delivering the glucocorticoid in the absence of the endotoxin challenge. Within 1–2 h, experimentally produced increments in circulating cortisol suppressed pulsatile LH secretion in a dose-dependent fashion. Second, we blocked the endotoxin-induced stimulation of cortisol secretion using the drug metyrapone, which inhibits the 11-β hydroxylase enzyme necessary for cortisol biosynthesis. In the absence of a marked stimulation of cortisol secretion, endotoxin still profoundly inhibited pulsatile GnRH and LH secretion. We conclude that, although enhanced cortisol secretion may contribute to endotoxin-induced suppression of reproductive neuroendocrine activity, the marked stimulation of the glucocorticoid is not necessary for this response. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that immune/inflammatory stress inhibits reproductive neuroendocrine activity via more than one inhibitory pathway, one involving enhanced secretion of cortisol and the other(s) being independent of this glucocorticoid.... [Show full abstract]