Vasoactive intestinal peptide (Vip) regulates luteinizing hormone (LH) release through the direct regulation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons at the level of the brain in female rodents. However, little is known regarding the roles of Vip in teleost reproduction. Although GnRH is critical for fertility through the regulation of LH secretion in vertebrates, the exact role of the hypophysiotropic GnRH (GnRH3) in zebrafish is unclear since GnRH3 null fish are reproductively fertile. This phenomenon raises the possibility of a redundant regulatory pathway(s) for LH secretion in zebrafish. Here, we demonstrate that VipA (homologues of mammalian Vip) both inhibits and induces LH secretion in zebrafish. Despite the observation that VipA axons may reach the pituitary proximal pars distalis including LH cells, pituitary incubation with VipA in vitro, and intraperitoneal injection of VipA, did not induce LH secretion and lhβ mRNA expression in sexually mature females, respectively. On the other hand, intracerebroventricular administration of VipA augmented plasma LH levels in both wild-type and gnrh3-/- females at 1 hour posttreatment, with no observed changes in pituitary GnRH2 and GnRH3 contents and gnrh3 mRNA levels in the brains. While VipA's manner of inhibition of LH secretion has yet to be explored, the stimulation seems to occur via a different pathway than GnRH3, dopamine, and 17β-estradiol in regulating LH secretion. The results indicate that VipA induces LH release possibly by acting with or through a non-GnRH factor(s), providing proof for the existence of functional redundancy of LH release in sexually mature female zebrafish.
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