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Concept: Kisspeptin


Delayed puberty (DP) in boys is the lack of sexual maturation at a chronological age of 14 years. Several conditions induce DP and they can be classified into reversible and irreversible causes. The most common cause of DP is constitutional delay of puberty (CDP; 63%), followed by DPs due to functional hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH; 20%), congenital isolated HH (9%) and hypergonadotropic hypogonadism (7%). A correct diagnosis, although often difficult, is pivotal for choosing the most adequate therapy. In CDP boys, expectant management can be an option. However, patient’s psychological distress can be attenuated by short-term low-dose testosterone therapy, which can induce male secondary sexual characteristics. When therapy is discontinued in CDP, pubertal development continues similarly to normal boys. Long-term testosterone therapy is the only option in boys with DP due to hypergonadotropic hypogonadism, whereas in subjects with HH, besides long-term testosterone, also gonadotropins and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) can be used. Gonadotropins and GnRH, besides inducing secondary sexual characteristics, can also induce testicular maturation and spermatogenesis. Other molecules, such as kisspeptin and neurokinin B agonists, are now under evaluation as new therapeutic options for treating DP.

Concepts: Testosterone, Puberty, Hypogonadism, Kallmann syndrome, Anabolic steroid, Kisspeptin, Precocious puberty, Delayed puberty


To investigate the mechanism by which maternal obesity disrupts reproductive function in offspring, we examined Kiss1 expression in the hypothalamic arcuate (ARC) and anteroventral periventricular (AVPV) nuclei, and posterodorsal medial amygdala (MePD) of pre-pubertal and young adult offspring. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed either a standard or energy-dense diet for six weeks prior to mating and throughout pregnancy and lactation. Male and female offspring were weaned onto normal diet on postnatal day (pnd) 21. Brains were collected on pnd 30 or 100 for qRT-PCR to determine Kiss1 mRNA levels. Maternal obesity increased Kiss1 mRNA expression in the MePD of pre-pubertal male and female offspring, whereas Kiss1 expression was not affected in the ARC or AVPV at this age. Maternal obesity reduced Kiss1 expression in all three brain regions of 3 month old female offspring, but only in MePD of males. The role of MePD kisspeptin on puberty, estrous cyclicity and preovulatory LH surges was assessed directly in a separate group of post-weanling and young adult female rats exposed to a normal diet throughout their life course. Bilateral intra-MePD cannulae connected to osmotic mini-pumps for delivery of kisspeptin receptor antagonist (Peptide 234 for 14 days) were chronically implanted on pnd 21 or 100. Antagonism of MePD kisspeptin delayed puberty onset, disrupted estrous cyclicity and reduced the incidence of LH surges. These data show that the MePD plays a key role in pubertal timing and ovulation and that maternal obesity may act via amygdala kisspeptin signaling to influence reproductive function in the offspring.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Male, Reproduction, Female, Hormone, Menstrual cycle, Puberty, Kisspeptin


Signaling between kisspeptin and its receptor, G-protein-coupled receptor 54 (Gpr54), is now recognized as being essential for normal fertility. However, the key cellular location of kisspeptin-Gpr54 signaling is unknown. Here we create a mouse with a GnRH neuron-specific deletion of Gpr54 to assess the role of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons. Mutant mice are infertile, fail to go through puberty and exhibit markedly reduced gonadal size and follicle-stimulating hormone levels alongside GnRH neurons that are unresponsive to kisspeptin. In an attempt to rescue the infertile phenotype of global Gpr54(-/-) mutants, we use BAC transgenesis to target Gpr54 to the GnRH neurons. This results in mice with normal puberty onset, estrous cyclicity, fecundity and a recovery of kisspeptin’s stimulatory action upon GnRH neurons. Using complimentary cell-specific knockout and knockin approaches we demonstrate here that the GnRH neuron is the key site of kisspeptin-Gpr54 signaling for fertility.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Hormone, Luteinizing hormone, G protein-coupled receptor, Follicle-stimulating hormone, Puberty, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone, Kisspeptin


The 3rd World Conference on Kisspeptin, “Kisspeptin 2017: Brain and Beyond” was held March 30-31 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida, providing an international forum for multidisciplinary scientists to meet and share cutting-edge research on kisspeptin biology and its relevance to human health and disease. The meeting built upon previous world conferences focused on the role of kisspeptin and associated peptides in the control of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion and reproduction. Based on recent discoveries, the scope of this meeting was expanded to include functions of kisspeptin and related peptides in other physiological systems including energy homeostasis, pregnancy, ovarian and uterine function, and thermoregulation. In addition, discussions addressed the translation of basic knowledge of kisspeptin biology to the treatment of disease, with the goal of seeking consensus about the best approaches to improve human health. The two-day meeting featured a non-traditional structure, with each day starting with poster sessions followed by lunch discussions and facilitated large-group sessions with short presentations to maximize the exchange of new, unpublished data. Topics were identified by a survey prior to the meeting, and focused on major unresolved questions, important controversies, and future directions in the field. Finally, career development activities provided mentoring for trainees and junior investigators, and networking opportunities for those individuals with established researchers in the field. Overall, the meeting was rated as a success by attendees and covered a wide range of lively and provocative discussion topics on the changing nature of the field of “kisspeptinology” and its future. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Medicine, Hypothalamus, Epidemiology, Physiology, Peptide, Copyright, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone, Kisspeptin


Kisspeptin signalling is indispensable for fertility, stimulating gonadotropin- releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion and mediating gonadal steroid feedback on GnRH neurons. Moreover, kisspeptin neurons have been implicated in other non-reproductive neuroendocrine roles. Kisspeptin appears to also regulate growth hormone secretion but much of the data appear contradictory. We sought to clarify a potential role of kisspeptin in GH regulation by examining the effect of kisspeptin antagonists on growth hormone (GH) secretion in ewes under various physiological conditions. Our data show clear and robust increases in GH secretion following lateral ventricle or third ventricle infusion of kisspeptin antagonists p-234 and p-271 in either ovariectomised or anestrous ewes. Central infusion of kisspeptin-10 had no effect on GH secretion. To determine the level at which kisspeptin may influence GH secretion we examined expression of the cognate kisspeptin receptor, GPR54, in pituitary cells and showed by immunocytochemistry that the majority of somatotropes express GPR54 while expression was largely negative in other pituitary cells. Overall, we have demonstrated that blocking kisspeptin signalling by antagonists stimulates GH secretion in ewes and that this is likely mediated by inhibiting endogenous kisspeptin activation of GPR54 expressed on somatotropes. The findings suggest that endogenous kisspeptin inhibits growth hormone secretion through GPR54 expressed on somatotropes.

Concepts: Immune system, Hypothalamus, Gene expression, Hormone, Growth hormone, Ventricular system, Endocrine gland, Kisspeptin


Hypothalamic kisspeptin signaling plays a critical role in the initiation and maintenance of reproductive function. Biallelic mutations in the coding sequence of KISS1R (GPR54) have been identified in patients with idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH), but it is unknown whether biallelic variants can also be associated with related reproductive disorders.

Concepts: Testosterone, Reproductive system, Puberty, Hypogonadism, Anabolic steroid, Kisspeptin, Delayed puberty, KiSS1-derived peptide receptor


The roles of kisspeptin signaling outside the hypothalamus in the brain are unknown. We examined here the impact of Kiss1r-deletion on hippocampus-related behaviors of anxiety and spatial learning in adult male mice using two mouse models. In the first, global Kiss1r-null and control mice were gonadectomized (GDX KISS1R-KO). In the second, KISS1R signalling was rescued selectively in gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons to generate Kiss1r-null mice with normal testosterone levels (intact KISS1R-KO). Intact KISS1R-KO rescue mice were found to spend twice as much time in the open arms of the elevated plus maze (EPM) compared to controls (P < 0.01). GDX KISS1R-KO mice showed a similar but less pronounced trend. No differences were detected between intact KISS1R-KO mice and controls in the open field test (OFT), although a marked reduction in time spent in the centre quadrant was observed for all GDX mice (P < 0.001). No effects of KISS1R deletion or gonadectomy were detected in the Morris water maze. These observations demonstrate that KISS1R signalling impacts upon anxiogenic neural circuits operative in the EPM, while gonadal steroids appear important for anxiety behaviour observed in the OFT. The potential anxiogenic role of kisspeptin may need to be considered in the development of kisspeptin analogs for the clinic.

Concepts: Nervous system, Psychology, Brain, Testosterone, Behavior, Human behavior, Mice, Kisspeptin


Pulsatile secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) drives pulsatile secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH), with evidence that this depends upon kisspeptin (Kiss) input to GnRH neurons. Kiss administration causes acute GnRH/LH secretion and electrophysiological data suggest that Kiss neurons may act in a phasic manner to drive GnRH secretion, but there is not definitive evidence for this. The product of the Kiss1 gene is proteolytically cleaved to smaller products and the 10 amino-acid C-terminal product (Kiss-10) displays full bioactivity. We have shown previously that continuous delivery of Kiss-10 to anestrous ewes can cause a surge in GnRH secretion and ovulation, and increases LH pulse frequency in humans. Here we tested the hypothesis that continuous Kiss-10 delivery can support pulsatile GnRH/LH secretion in the sheep. Neurokinin B (NKB) provides positive drive to Kiss neurons, so we therefore infused an NKB antagonist (ANT-08) intracerebroventricularly to induce cessation of pulsatile GnRH/LH secretion, with or without concomitant continuous Kiss-10 infusion. ANT-08 suppressed GnRH/LH pulsatility, which was immediately restored with continuous Kiss-10 infusion. These data support the notion that Kiss-10 action is downstream of NKB signaling and that continuous Kiss-10 stimulation of GnRH neurons is sufficient to support a pulsatile pattern of GnRH/LH secretion. This offers further support to the theory that GnRH pulse generation is intrinsic to GnRH neurons and pulsatile GnRH release can be effected with continuous stimulation by Kiss-10.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Luteinizing hormone, Follicle-stimulating hormone, Puberty, Ovulation, Kallmann syndrome, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone, Kisspeptin


Loss-of-function or inactivating mutations in the genes coding for kisspeptin and its receptor (KISS1R) or neurokinin B (NKB) and the NKB receptor (NK3R) in humans result in a delay in or the absence of puberty. However, precise mechanisms of kisspeptin and NKB signaling in the regulation of the pubertal increase in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) release in primates are unknown. In this study, we conducted a series of experiments infusing agonists and antagonists of kisspeptin and NKB into the stalk-median eminence, where GnRH, kisspeptin, and NKB neuroterminal fibers are concentrated, and measuring GnRH release in prepubertal and pubertal female rhesus monkeys. Results indicate that (1) similar to those previously reported for GnRH stimulation by the KISS1R agonist (i.e., human kisspeptin-10), the NK3R agonist senktide stimulated GnRH release in a dose-responsive manner in both prepubertal and pubertal monkeys; (2) the senktide-induced GnRH release was blocked in the presence of the KISS1R antagonist peptide 234 in pubertal but not prepubertal monkeys; and (3) the kisspeptin-induced GnRH release was blocked in the presence of the NK3R antagonist SB222200 in the pubertal but not prepubertal monkeys. These results are interpreted to mean that although, in prepubertal female monkeys, kisspeptin and NKB signaling to GnRH release is independent, in pubertal female monkeys, a reciprocal signaling mechanism between kisspeptin and NKB neurons is established. We speculate that this cooperative mechanism by the kisspeptin and NKB network underlies the pubertal increase in GnRH release in female monkeys.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Peptide, Receptor antagonist, Primate, Puberty, Inverse agonist, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone, Kisspeptin


Kisspeptin 1 is a neuropeptide hormone of the RFamide family, which act as an upstream regulator of brain-pituitary-gonad (BPG) axis in most vertebrates including teleosts. In the present study, a 16 amino acid long putative mature bioactive peptide (kiss 1) from preprokisspeptin 1 of golden mahseer, Tor putitora (Hamilton, 1822), was synthesized and characterized using an integrated (experimental and in silico) approach. The far-UV circular dichroism (CD) spectrum of this peptide was evaluated both in aqueous and membrane mimicking solvents (TFE, HFIP and Dioxane). The results indicate that kiss 1 peptide adopted helical, turn and β conformations in membrane like environments. The near-UV CD spectroscopy was also carried out to examine the tertiary packing around aromatic residues of kiss 1 peptide and the peptide-membrane complex. The kiss 1 peptide exhibited little signal in water, but a prominent negative band was observed at around 275 nm when membrane mimetic solution was added. The observed ordered conformations of kiss 1 peptide in the different solvents indicated its potential biological activity which could enhance the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) at BPG axis. The conformational information generated from the present study reinforces the application prospects of bioactive synthetic peptide analogs of kisspeptin 1 in improving the reproductive performances of important cultivable fish species.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Secondary structure, Peptide, Peptide synthesis, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone, Kisspeptin