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Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011 Sep 13;8(1):40-53. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2011.147.

Neuroendocrine control by kisspeptins: role in metabolic regulation of fertility.

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Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology and CIBERobn, Faculty of Medicine, University of Córdoba, Avenida Menéndez Pidal s/n, 14004 Córdoba, Spain.


The neurohormonal control of reproduction involves a hierarchical network of central and peripheral signals in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Development and function of this neuroendocrine system is the result of a lifelong delicate balance between endogenous regulators and environmental cues, including nutritional and metabolic factors. Kisspeptins are the peptide products of KISS1, which operate via the G-protein-coupled receptor GPR54 (also known as Kiss1R). These peptides have emerged as essential upstream regulators of neurons secreting gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), the major hypothalamic node for the stimulatory control of the HPG axis. They are potent elicitors of gonadotropin secretion in various species and physiological settings. Moreover, Kiss1 neurons in the hypothalamus participate in crucial features of reproductive maturation and function, such as brain-level sex differentiation, puberty onset and the neuroendocrine regulation of gonadotropin secretion and ovulation. Cotransmitters of Kiss1 neurons, such as neurokinin B, with roles in controlling the HPG axis have been identified by genetic, neuroanatomical and physiological studies. In addition, a putative role has been proposed for Kiss1 neurons in transmitting metabolic information to GnRH neurons, although the precise mechanisms are as yet unclear. In this Review, we present the major reproductive features of kisspeptins, especially their interplay with neurokinin B and potential roles in the metabolic control of puberty and fertility, and suggest new avenues for research.

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