Intriguingly, similar neurotransmitters and nuclei within the hypothalamus control stress and reproduction. GnRH neurone recruitment and activity is regulated by a balance between stimulation, suppression and permissiveness controlled by noradrenaline, neuropeptide Y and serotonin from the brain stem, impact from glutamate in the medial preoptic area and neuropeptide Y in the arcuate nucleus, in opposition to the restraining influences of gamma-aminobenzoic acid within the medial preoptic area and opioids from the arcuate nucleus. Stress also activates neuropeptide Y perikarya in the arcuate nucleus and brain stem noradrenaline neurones. The latter project either indirectly, via the medial preoptic area, or directly to the paraventricular nucleus to release corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP). Within the medial preoptic area, GnRH neurones synapse with CRH and AVP axons. Stimulation of CRH neurones in the paraventricular nucleus also activates gamma-aminobenzoic acid and opioid neurones in the medial preoptic area and reduces GnRH cell recruitment, thereby decreasing GnRH pulse frequency. Oestradiol enhances stress-induced noradrenaline suppression of LH pulse frequency but when applied in the paraventricular nucleus or brain stem, and not in the medial preoptic area or arcuate nucleus. The importance of CRH and AVP in the medial preoptic area needs confirming in a species other than the rat, which uses adrenal activation to time the onset of the GnRH surge. Another stress-activated pathway involves the amygdala and bed of the nucleus stria terminalis, which contain CRH neurones and accumulate gamma-aminobenzoic acid during stress.
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