The present experiments were designed to assess the effect of the serotoninergic system on FSH secretion in prepubertal (16-, 18-, 20-, 26- and 30-day-old) and adult (60-day-old) male and female rats. The intraperitoneal administration of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), a serotonin (5-HT) precursor, induced a significant increase of FSH levels in male rats at 16, 26, 30 and 60 days of age (p < 0.01) but not at 18 and 20 days. In the females, no modifications in FSH concentrations in prepubertal and adult rats were observed after 5-HΓP injection. These results indicate that there are sexual differences in the effect of the serotoninergic system on FSH secretion. Orchidectomy performed in prepubertal (30-day-old) and adult rats (60 days) besides increasing FSH levels, reversed the response of this hormone to 5-HTP administration, since in castrated rats the 5-HT precursor induced a significant decrease in serum FSH concentrations. The administration of 5-HTP to 30 day-old castrated rats treated with testosterone induced FSH release as it did in control animals of this age. In the adult castrated rats the administration of testosterone abolished the inhibitory effect of 5-HTP observed in castrated rats but did not invoke the stimulatory action of 5-HTP observed in the controls. This difference between prepubertal and adult rats appears to be related to a decrease in the sensitivity to testosterone of the central mechanism which controls FSH secretion. These results indicate that 5-HΓP stimulates FSH release in normal rats and inhibits FSH release in castrated rats, testosterone concentration being a relevant factor in determining the ‘type’ of effect produced. The hypothalamic concentrations of 5-HT and 5-hydroxy-indoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) are significantly higher at the ages at which 5-HTP induces FSH release than at other ages suggesting that hypothalamic turnover of these substances is related to the releasing effect of 5-HTP on FSH.

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