Role of endogenous opioid peptides in the initiation of the midcycle luteinizing hormone surge in normal cycling women.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988 Oct; 67(4):695-700.JC
While compelling evidence indicates a pivotal role for endogenous opioids in the regulation of GnRH-LH pulsatile activity during the late follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle, the participation, if any, of the opioidergic mechanism in the initiation of the midcycle surge has not been examined. Accordingly, we measured serum LH, FSH, estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) levels daily during 2 consecutive cycles in 12 normal cycling women. After a control cycle, each woman was infused with naloxone (30 micrograms/kg.h) for 24 h starting 3 days before the anticipated spontaneous midcycle surge. Blood samples were obtained at 15-min intervals for 8 h before, during, and 16 h after the naloxone infusion. Serum LH and FSH concentrations were measured in all samples, and serum E2 and P4 concentrations at 2-h intervals. Pulsatile LH secretion was analyzed using the cluster program. The opioidergic blockade elicited a robust increase in LH pulsatile activity and a 3-fold rise in serum FSH levels in 6 of the 12 women. This increased gonadotropin secretion lasted more than 24 h and was characterized by a progressive increase in LH pulse amplitude, which was 9-fold greater during the last 8 h of naloxone infusion [mean LH pulse amplitude, 36.5 +/- 4.5 (+/- SE) vs. 4.1 +/- 0.4 IU/L; P less than 0.001]. This increase was accompanied by a corresponding increase in transverse mean serum LH levels (83.3 +/- 13 vs. 20.7 +/- 3.2 IU/L; P less than 0.001), but no alteration of the interpulse interval (93 +/- 11 vs. 85 +/- 4 min). The peak serum LH concentrations exceeded 100 IU/L in all 6 of these women. This naloxone-advanced gonadotropin surge, resembling closely the spontaneous midcycle surge, resulted in a significantly shortened (P less than 0.001) follicular phase and a more than 2-fold elevation of serum P4, followed by assumed ovulation and normal luteal function. These 6 women had serum E2 levels immediately before naloxone infusion that were comparable to those during the preovulatory peak during the control cycle. In the 6 women who did not have a naloxone-induced increase in gonadotropin secretion the preinfusion serum E2 levels were substantially lower (P less than 0.001) than the values during the control cycle. These findings suggest that a transient decrease in opioidergic activity may contribute to the initiation of the midcycle gonadotropin surge in women.