Endogenous kisspeptin tone is a critical excitatory component of spontaneous GnRH activity and the GnRH response to NPY and CART

Saurabh Verma, Melissa A. Kirigiti, Robert P. Millar, Kevin L. Grove, M. Susan Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background/Aims: Kisspeptin is the major excitatory regulator of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and is responsible for basal GnRH/LH release and the GnRH/LH surge. Although it is widely assumed, based on mutations in kisspeptin and Kiss1R, that kisspeptin acts to sustain basal GnRH neuronal activity, there have been no studies to investigate whether endogenous basal kisspeptin tone plays a direct role in basal spontaneous GnRH neuronal excitability. It is also of interest to examine possible interactions between endogenous kisspeptin tone and other neuropeptides that have direct effects on GnRH neurons, such as neuropeptide Y (NPY) or cocaine-and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART), since the activity of all these neuropeptides changes during states of negative energy balance. Methods: Loose cell-attached and whole-cell current patch-clamp recordings were made from GnRH-GFP neurons in hypothalamic slices from female and male rats. Results: Kisspeptin activated GnRH neurons in a concentration-dependent manner with an EC50 of 3.32 ± 0.02 nM. Surprisingly, a kisspeptin antagonist, Peptide 347, suppressed spontaneous activity in GnRH neurons, demonstrating the essential nature of the endogenous kisspeptin tone. Furthermore, inhibition of endogenous kisspeptin tone blocked the direct activation of GnRH cells that occurs in response to antagonism of NPY Y5 receptor or by CART. Conclusions: Our electrophysiology studies suggest that basal endogenous kisspeptin tone is not only essential for spontaneous GnRH neuronal firing, but it is also required for the net excitatory effects of other neuropeptides, such as CART or NPY antagonism, on GnRH neurons. Therefore, endogenous kisspeptin tone could serve as the linchpin in GnRH activation or inhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-203
Number of pages14
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 16 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cocaine-and amphetamine-regulated transcript
  • Electrophysiology
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone
  • Kisspeptin
  • Neuropeptide Y

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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