GnRH and its agonists are known to induce ovulation in hypophysectomized rats by acting directly at the ovary. Because tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) has been implicated in the gonadotropin induction of ovulation, we examined the effect of an ovulatory dose of GnRH on ovarian tPA activity, mRNA content, and cellular localization. Hypophysectomized immature rats were injected sc with 20 IU PMSG and a single dose of a GnRH agonist (GnRHa; des-Gly10,DLeu6(N alpha Me)Leu7,Pro9NHEt-GnRH) 58 h later. At different times after treatment, ovaries were prepared for morphological analysis. Using a fibrin overlay method, tPA activities were measured in ovarian homogenates and cumulus-oocyte complexes, whereas granulosa cells were cultured for 24 h to estimate tPA secretion. Total ovarian RNA was prepared for hybridization analysis of tPA message levels, and tPA localization was studied by immunohistochemistry of ovarian sections. GnRHa induced ovulation in PMSG-primed hypophysectomized rats 14-16 h after injection in a dose-dependent manner, and the GnRHa action was blocked by concomitant treatment with a GnRH antagonist. GnRHa stimulated the induction of tPA, but not urokinase-type PA, activity in ovarian homogenates and granulosa cell-conditioned medium in a time-dependent manner, reaching a maximum before ovulation. tPA activity in cumulus-oocyte complexes was also increased before ovulation, but this increase was sustained. Hybridization analysis of steady state tPA mRNA levels was performed using a rat cRNA probe. Northern blot analysis of total ovarian RNA demonstrated that GnRHa stimulated tPA mRNA levels 12 h after treatment, with a subsequent decrease 24 h after treatment. Immunohistochemistry indicated substantial increases in tPA staining in granulosa cells and oocytes of preovulatory follicles before ovulation. Thus, GnRHa acts through specific receptors to increase ovarian tPA enzyme activity, mRNA content, as well as immunostaining in granulosa cells and oocytes. Like gonadotropins, GnRH may induce ovulation by directly stimulating tPA levels in the ovary.
1988. Vol. 122, no 4, 1486-95 p.