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J Neuroendocrinol. 2013 Dec;25(12):1273-9. doi: 10.1111/jne.12104.

Oestrogen-independent circadian clock gene expression in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus in female rats: possible role as an integrator for circadian and ovarian signals timing the luteinising hormone surge.

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Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA; Program of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


Periodic ovulation in rats, mice and hamsters is the result of a surge in luteinising hormone (LH) that depends on circadian gating signals emerging from the master circadian clock within the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and rising ovarian oestrogen levels. These two signals converge into the anteroventral periventricular nucleus (AVPV) and lead to the release of kisspeptin, which is responsible for surges of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone and, in turn, of LH release. How the AVPV integrates circadian and reproductive signals remains unclear. In the present study, we show that the female rat AVPV itself shows circadian oscillations in the expression of the clock genes PER1 and BMAL1, which lie at the core circadian clockwork of mammals. In ovariectomised females treated with oestradiol (Eā‚‚), these oscillations are in synchrony with the AVPV rhythmic expression of the KISS1 gene and the gene that codes for the arginine-vasopressin (AVP) receptor AVPr1a. Although clock gene oscillations are independent of oestrogen levels, circadian expression of Kiss1 and Avpr1a (also referred to as V1a) mRNA is blunted and absent, respectively, in ovariectomised animals without Eā‚‚ replacement. Because AVP is considered to be a critical SCN transmitter to gate the LH surge, our data suggest that there is a circadian oscillator located in the AVPV, and that such a putative oscillator could, in an oestrogen-dependent manner, time the sensitivity to circadian signals emerging from the SCN and the release of kisspeptin.


circadian oscillators; kisspeptin; ovulation; vasopressin

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