The luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR), mainly expressed in gonads, is essential for normal reproduction. However, numerous recent studies have also demonstrated LHR expression in multiple extragonadal reproductive and nonreproductive tissues. Although some effects of luteinizing hormone (LH) or its agonist, human chorionic gonadotropin, have been shown in extragonadal sites, their physiological significance remains open. In the present study, we have addressed the function of the extragonadal LHR using LHR-KO mice (LuRKO mice), in which the ovaries of prepubertal mice were orthotopically replaced with pieces of WT ovary using similarly transplanted WT mice as controls. Most ovarian transplants attained normal endocrine function in both groups of mice, as demonstrated by normal age at vaginal opening, estrous cycles, and sexual behavior. Both the LuRKO and WT mice repeatedly became pregnant (9/16 vs. 16/20 after first mating; difference not significant) and delivered similarly sized litters, which grew normally after birth, indicating normal lactation. In conclusion, fertility is restored in LuRKO mice by transplantation of WT ovarian tissue. This is achieved in the absence of extragonadal LHR expression, which indicates physiological redundancy for such receptor sites.
Tomi Pakarainen, Fu-Ping Zhang, Matti Poutanen, Ilpo Huhtaniemi