In mammals endorphinergic systems have been shown to modulate reproductive processes and beta-endorphin (beta-EP) has been found to influence sexual functions, acting at the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis level. Using immunocytochemical and in vitro studies, evidence for a diffuse pro-opiomelanocortin-related opioid system in the lizard Podarcis s. sicula was produced. In the testis, beta-EP immunoreactivity showed seasonal variation, being most pronounced in the interstitial cells of sexually quiescent lizards (December). Reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography, coupled with radioimmunoassay and immunocytochemistry, showed that beta-EP and acetyl beta-EP increased during December, while their concentrations were low during April, when the highest testicular activity occurred. Using in vivo studies, it was found that naltrexone treatment, blocking pituitary opioid receptor, increased androgen levels in the plasma and in the testis. It was also found with in vitro studies that the endogenous opioid system inhibits gonadotrophin release and therefore androgen production by the testis. The data reported here provide evidence for the physiological role played by opioid peptides at the pituitary level to regulate the seasonal reproductive activity of the lizard Podarcis s. sicula.
Opioid peptides and testicular activity in the lizard Podarcis s. sicula Raf / G., Ciarcia; Facchinetti, Fabio; M., Vallarino; M., Pestarino; M., Paolucci; A., Cardone; S., Fasano; R., Pierantoni; A. R., Genazzani. - In: JOURNAL OF ENDOCRINOLOGY. - ISSN 0022-0795. - STAMPA. - 143:(1994), pp. 565-571.