Author(s): Gyurko R, Leupen S, Huang PL
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Abstract Nitric oxide (NO) has been recognized as a modulator in reproductive functions, but it is not clear whether NO is required for fertility. The first line of mice deficient in neuronal NO synthase (referred to herein as KN1 mice) reproduce normally. However, residual neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) activity is detected in KN1 mice due to the expression of beta- and gamma-nNOS splice variants. We generated a new line of nNOS knockout mice (KN2) lacking exon 6, which codes for the heme-binding domain of nNOS. KN2 mice are viable, but mated homozygotes do not produce litters, indicating that either one or both sexes are infertile. Male KN2 mice show decreased gonad weights, but sperm counts are normal. KN2 males do not display mating behavior, and consequently do not leave vaginal plugs when housed with wild-type (WT) females. KN2 females show decreased ovary weight, and histology reveals decreased corpus luteum counts. RIAs show that KN2 males have decreased plasma FSH, whereas KN2 females have increased levels of plasma LH and increased hypothalamic GnRH content. Experimental ovarian transplantation suggests that central, rather than ovarian, processes are influenced by nNOS, as KN2 ovaries ovulate at near-normal rates under WT hormonal control, whereas WT ovaries transplanted into KN2 mice have decreased ovulation rates. We observed pyloric stenosis in KN2 mice, but plasma leptin levels are normal, and no ketones are found, indicating that hypogonadism is not a result of malnutrition. We conclude that nNOS is required for normal central hormonal regulation of reproductive function.
This article was published in Endocrinology
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Cardiology