To investigate the role of the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) in diabetic gonadal axis disorders, the MBHs of adult male streptozocin-induced diabetic (STZ-D) rats were examined after incubation in basal conditions or in K+-enriched medium and compared with those of controls. Diabetes lasted 1 mo. Both luteinizing-hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) release and MBH morphology were studied. After incubation in basal conditions, the LHRH release was unchanged. By light microscopy, the dilated-axon cross sections were more numerous (P < .01) in the basal arcuate nucleus and in the median eminence. By electron microscopy, the ratio of exocytoses to neurosecretory granules observed in the median eminence axon cross sections was smaller (P < .05). The total LHRH immunoreactivity, the number of labeled axons, and the amount of positive material in the axons were reduced (P < .05). After incubation in K+-enriched medium, the LHRH release was markedly reduced (P < .01). The number and area of dilated-axon cross sections, possibly because of the relation between exocytosis and physiological dilation, were less augmented (P < .01). Whereas the number of exocytoses and the ratio of exocytoses to neurosecretory granules were not decreased, the total LHRH immunoreactivity and the number of labeled axons were reduced (P < .05). The releasable LHRH pool therefore seems to be exhausted in control MBH because of long-term stimulation and reduced in the MBH of STZ-D rats because of diabetes. In conclusion, STZ-D causes functional and anatomical MBH lesions that should be pathogenetically relevant for the disorders of the gonadal axis documented in this animal model.

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