Purpose of review: To discuss recent progress in our understanding of pituitary gonadotroph development and gonadotropin gene regulation, with an emphasis on differential luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) secretion and subunit synthesis, and the implications this may have on female reproductive health.
Recent findings: In the mature gonadotroph, there is an emerging concept that differential synthesis of gonadotropin β-subunit genes, essential for cyclic reproductive function, is associated with modification of activation and/or stability of important regulatory proteins and transcription factors. Recent studies suggest that cellular events, which affect histone modification, play an essential role in both gonadotroph development and the ontogeny of gonadotropin subunit gene expression. Such dynamic events are under the orchestration of the hypothalamic neuropeptide gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), potentially through the ability of GnRH to activate several distinct signaling cascades within the gonadotroph.
Summary: Greater insight into the cellular events that are key to gonadotroph physiology will contribute to our understanding of abnormal gonadotropin secretion in disorders such as hypothalamic amenorrhea and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and provide a context for the design of novel therapeutic approaches.
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 221 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Correspondence to Ursula B. Kaiser, MD, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 221 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA Tel: +1 617 525 8867; fax: +1 617 264 5273; e-mail: UKAISER@PARTNERS.ORG