The function and components of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis are conservedamongvertebrates; however, in fish, a neuroglandular mode of delivery (direct contact between axons and endocrine cells) was considered dominant, whereas in tetrapods hypothalamic signals are relayed to their targets via the hypophysial portal blood system (neurovascular delivery mode). By using a transgenic zebrafish model we studied the functional and anatomical aspects of gonadotrope regulation thus revisiting the existing model. FSH cells were found to be situated close to the vasculature whereas the compact organization of LH cells prevented direct contact of all cells with the circulation. GnRH3 fibers formed multiple boutons upon reaching the pituitary, but most of these structures were located in the neurohypophysis rather than adjacent to gonadotropes. A close association was observed between FSH cells and Gn RH3 boutons, but only a fifth of the LH cells were in direct contact with GnRH3 axons, suggesting that FSH cells are more directly regulated than LH cells. GnRH3 fibers closely followed the vasculature in the neurohypophysis and formed numerous boutons along these tracts. These vessels were found to be permeable to relatively large molecules, suggesting the uptake of GnRH3 peptides. Our findings have important implications regarding the differential regulation of LH and FSH and contradict the accepted notion that fish pituitary cells are mostly regulated directly by hypothalamic fibers. Instead, we provide evidence that zebrafish apply a dual mode of gonadotrope regulation by GnRH3 that combines both neuroglandular and neurovascular components.
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© 2015 by the Endocrine Society.