Development of Opiate ([3H]Naloxone)-Binding Sites in Female Rabbit Brain: Correlation with Prepubertal Gonadotropin Secretion1
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In neurochemical terms, little is known concerning the control of puberty onset in the female rabbit. In view of the established involvement of brain opiates in the sexual maturation of the rat, we have investigated the prepubertal development of opiate-binding sites in the hypothalamus and cerebral cortex of the rabbit. Binding of the opiate antagonist, [3H] naloxone, to thick (350 micron) slices of rabbit brain was found to be reversible, stereospecific, saturable, and of high affinity. In all respects these sites possessed the characteristics of opiate receptors. Specific binding (Bmax and KD) values were determined at 1, 8, 29, 40, 51, 100, and 168 days after birth in the hypothalamus and cerebral cortex. All all ages binding in the hypothalamus was higher, per mg of tissue, than in the cortex. Major differences in the pattern of development were also evident. In the cortex the Bmax slowly increased from a minimum at Day 1 to a maximum at about 100 days when puberty normally occurs. In contrast, binding in the hypothalamus rose rapidly to a maximum at 40 days and then fell abruptly, by about 40% at Day 51, after which a slow increase through puberty took place. This peak in the hypothalamic Bmax value correlates closely with the major prepubertal surge of gonadotropin secretion. It remains to be determined whether the coincidence of spontaneous gonadotropin secretion with the rapid appearance of hypothalamic opiate receptors is developmentally meaningful for the reproductive system.
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