Indexed on: 23 Dec '06Published on: 23 Dec '06Published in: Endocrinology
The KiSS-1 gene encodes the peptide hormone kisspeptin, which acts as a principal positive regulator of the reproductive axis by directly stimulating GnRH neuron activity. To gain insight into a potential role for kisspeptin in integrating and relaying reproductively relevant stimuli to the GnRH system, we investigated changes in kisspeptin peptide expression associated with photoperiodic changes in reproductive state as well as pituitary and gonadal responses to peripheral kisspeptin injections. Seasonally breeding rodents undergo pronounced fluctuations in reproductive state in response to changing day lengths. In common with other rodent species, a majority of male Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) exhibit reproductive decline after exposure to short-day lengths. A subset of individuals fails to respond to day length information, however, and maintains their reproductive function. We exploited these individual differences to examine whether kisspeptin may act at the interface between external stimuli and the reproductive system. After extended exposure to short days, animals with a quiescent reproductive axis displayed a marked reduction in kisspeptin cell labeling in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus but robust kisspeptin-immunoreactive staining in the arcuate nucleus. In contrast, animals with functional reproductive systems displayed high numbers of kisspeptin-immunoreactive neurons in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus but a paucity of expression in the arcuate nucleus. Kisspeptin injections significantly elevated LH over preinjection levels regardless of photoperiod or reproductive state. Collectively, these findings suggest an important role for kisspeptin in coordinating and relaying environmentally relevant information to the reproductive axis as well as a role for this peptide in regulating seasonal changes in reproductive function.