Manganese acts centrally to stimulate luteinizing hormone secretion: a potential influence on female pubertal development.
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Manganese (Mn), an essential element considered important for normal growth and reproduction, has been shown in adults to be detrimental to reproductive function when elevated. Because Mn can cross the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in the hypothalamus, and because it has been suggested that infants and children are potentially more sensitive to Mn than adults, we wanted to determine the effects of Mn exposure on puberty-related hormones and the onset of female puberty. We demonstrated that MnCl(2) when administered acutely into the third ventricle of the brain acts dose-dependently to stimulate luteinizing hormone (LH) release in prepubertal female rats. Incubation of hypothalami in vitro showed that this effect was due to a Mn-induced stimulation of luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH). Further demonstration that this is a hypothalamic site of action was shown by in vivo blockade of LHRH receptors and lack of a direct pituitary action of Mn to stimulate LH in vitro. To assess potential short-term effects, animals were supplemented with MnCl(2) (10 mg/kg) by gastric gavage from day 12 until day 29, or, in other animals, until vaginal opening (VO). Mn caused elevated serum levels of LH, follicle stimulating hormone, and estradiol, and it initiated a moderate but significant advancement in age at VO. Our results are the first to show that Mn can stimulate specific puberty-related hormones and suggest that it may facilitate the normal onset of puberty. They also suggest that Mn may contribute to precocious puberty if an individual is exposed to elevated levels of Mn too early in development.