In mammals, proopiomelanocortin-related peptides are involved in reproductive processes both at the hypothalamo-pituitary and ovarian levels. Using immunocytochemical, biochemical and physiological "in vitro" studies, we provide here evidence for a diffuse POMC-related opioid system in the frog Rana esculenta. Ovarian beta-endorphin (beta-EP) is expressed in thecal cells and changes during the reproductive cycle in an inverse relationship with follicular development. Seasonal changes in the ovary are different to those in the brain or in the pituitary. The ratio of acetylated vs native beta-EP in the ovary also changes over the reproductive period, affecting the biological activity of the peptide. During both the reproductive spring period and the summer post-reproductive phase pMol amounts of beta-EP stimulate follicular androgen secretion in vitro, in a naloxone-reversible way. In either period, an inhibition of estradiol, possibly mediated via other factors, is the result of opioid action. In conclusion, these data demonstrate for the first time the widespread presence of beta-EP-related peptides in the frog Rana esculenta. Both immunocytochemical and biochemical evidence, as well as in vitro responses, support a physiological role for beta-EP in ovarian seasonality during the reproductive cycle of this amphibian.
Ovarian opioids and the reproductive cycle of the frog Rana esculenta / Facchinetti, Fabio; A. R., Genazzani; M., Pestarino; M., Vallarino; R., Pierantoni; S., Fasano; M., D'Antonio; O., Carnevali; G., Mosconi; A., Polzonetti Magni. - In: LIFE SCIENCES. - ISSN 0024-3205. - STAMPA. - 50:(1992), pp. 1389-1398.