While gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is considered as the major hypothalamic factor controlling pituitary gonadotrophins in mammals and most other vertebrates, its stimulatory actions may be opposed by the potent inhibitory actions of dopamine (DA) in teleosts. This dual neuroendocrine control of reproduction by GnRH and DA has been demonstrated in various, but not all, adult teleosts, where DA participates in an inhibitory role in the neuroendocrine regulation of the last steps of gametogenesis (final oocyte maturation and ovulation in females and spermiation in males). This has major implications for inducing spawning in aquaculture. In addition, DA may also play an inhibitory role during the early steps of gametogenesis in some teleost species, and thus interact with GnRH in the control of puberty. Various neuroanatomical investigations have shown that DA neurones responsible for the inhibitory control of reproduction originate in a specific nucleus of the preoptic area (NPOav) and project directly to the region of the pituitary where gonadotrophic cells are located. Pharmacological studies showed that the inhibitory effects of DA on pituitary gonadotrophin production are mediated by DA-D2 type receptors. DA-D2 receptors have now been sequenced in several teleosts, and the coexistence of several DA-D2 subtypes has been demonstrated in a few species. Hypophysiotropic DA activity varies with development and reproductive cycle and probably is controlled by environmental cues as well as endogenous signals. Sex steroids have been shown to regulate dopaminergic systems in several teleost species, affecting both DA synthesis and DA-D2 receptor expression. This demonstrates that sex steroid feedbacks target DA hypophysiotropic system, as well as the other components of the brain-pituitary gonadotrophic axis, GnRH and gonadotrophins. Recent studies have revealed that melatonin modulates the activity of DA systems in some teleosts, making the melatonin-DA pathway a prominent relay between environmental cues and control of reproduction. The recruitment of DA neurons for the neuroendocrine control of reproduction provides an additional brain pathway for the integration of various internal and environmental cues. The plasticity of the DA neuroendocrine role observed in teleosts may have contributed to their large diversity of reproductive cycles.
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, UMR Biologie des Organismes et Ecosystèmes Aquatiques” MNHN-CNRS-IRD-UPMC, 7 rue Cuvier, CP 32, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France 2:
Institut de Neurobiologie A. Fessard DEPSN, UPR2197 CNRS, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette cedex, France