• pituitary;
  • GnRH antagonist;
  • luteinizing hormone;
  • progesterone


The effects of weekly injections of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist (GnRHa) ([N-acetyl-DβNal1-D-pCl-Phe2-D-Phe3-D-Arg6-Phe7-Arg8D-Ala10] NH2 GnRH) on pituitary and ovarian function were examined in the marmoset monkey, Callithrix jacchus. In experiment 1, five cyclic females were given weekly injections of vehicle (50% propylene glycol in saline) for 6 weeks followed by GnRHa for 20 weeks, animals receiving either 200 μg GnRHa/injection (n = 2) or 67 μg GnRHa/injection (n = 3) for 10 weeks, after which the treatment was reversed. Bioactive luteinizing hormone (LH) and progesterone (Po) were measured in blood samples (0.2–0.4 ml) collected twice weekly until at least 8 weeks after the last GnRHa injection. GnRHa treatment, timed to begin in the midluteal phase, caused a rapid decline in LH and Po and luteal regression after a single injection (both doses). Po levels were consistently low (<10 ng/ml), and ovulation was inhibited throughout 200 μg treatment in all animals. Short periods of elevated Po (>10 ng/ml) were, however, occasionally seen during 67 μg treatment, indicating incomplete ovarian suppression. Mean LH levels were significantly lower during GnRHa treatment compared with the period of vehicle injection (all animals 200 μg; three animals 67 μg), and there were significant differences in LH levels between GnRHa treatments (200 μg vs. 67 μg) in four animals. Four animals resumed normal ovarian cycles after the end of GnRHa treatment (15/16 days, three animals; 59 days, one animal); the fifth animal died of unknown causes 32 days after the last GnRHa injection. In a second experiment, pituitary responsiveness to exogenous GnRH was tested 1 day after a single injection of vehicle or antagonist (200 or 67 μg). Measurement of bioactive LH indicated that pituitary response to 200 ng native GnRH was significantly suppressed in animals receiving the antagonist, the degree of suppression being dose related. A third experiment examined the effect of four weekly injections of 200 μg GnRHa on follicular size and granulosa cell responsiveness to human follicle-stimulating hormone (hFSH) in vitro. Follicular development beyond 1 mm was inhibited by GnRHa treatment (preovulatory follicles normally 2-4 mm) although granulosa cell responsiveness to FSH during 48 hr of culture was not impaired. These results suggest that the GnRHa-induced suppression of follicular development and ovulation was mediated primarily by an inhibition of pituitary gonadotropin secretion and not by a direct action at the level of the ovary.