Arcuate Kisspeptin Neurons Coordinate Reproductive Activities with Metabolism

Oline Ronnekleiv, Jian Qiu, Martin J. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Hypothalamic control of fertility is the quintessential homeostatic function. However, fertility is metabolically demanding; so, there must be coordination between energy states and reproductive functions. Because gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons are devoid of many of the critical metabolic hormone receptors for sensing nutrient levels, it has long been recognized that the sensing of energy stores had to be done by neurons presynaptic to GnRH neurons. Some of the obvious players have been the anorexigenic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) and orexigenic neuropeptide Y (NPY)/agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons, both of which are in close apposition to the median eminence, a circumventricular organ. Indeed, POMC and NPY/AgRP neurons are inversely regulated by glucose and metabolic hormones including insulin and leptin. However, their synaptic connections with GnRH neurons are sparse and/or GnRH neurons are lacking the postsynaptic receptors to mediate the appropriate physiological response. Kisspeptin neurons were discovered in the early part of this century and subsequently shown to project to and control GnRH neuronal excitability. In fact, more recently the arcuate kisspeptin neurons have been identified as the command neurons driving pulsatile release of GnRH. Subsequently, it was shown that arcuate kisspeptin neurons express not only steroid hormone receptors but also metabolic hormone receptors such that similar to POMC neurons, they are excited by insulin and leptin. Therefore, based on the premise that arcuate kisspeptin neurons are the key neurons coordinating energy states with reproduction, we will review not only how these vital neurons control pulsatile GnRH release but how they control energy homeostasis through their synaptic connections with POMC and NPY/AgRP neurons and ultimately how E2 can regulate their excitability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-140
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Reproductive Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 23 2019


  • NPY/AgRP neurons
  • POMC neurons
  • estradiol
  • glutamate release
  • hedonic feeding
  • kisspeptin neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Physiology (medical)


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