Kisspeptin can stimulate gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) release by a direct action at GnRH nerve terminals.


The G protein-coupled receptor GPR54, and its peptide ligand kisspeptin (Kp), are crucial for the induction and maintenance of mammalian reproductive function. GPR54 is expressed by GnRH neurons and is directly activated by Kp to stimulate GnRH release. We hypothesized that Kp may be able to act at the GnRH nerve terminals located in the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) region. To test this hypothesis, we used organotypic culture of MBH explants challenged with Kp, followed by RIA to detect GnRH released into the cultured medium. Kp stimulation for 1 h induced GnRH release from wild-type male MBH in a dose-dependent manner, whereas this did not occur in MBH explants isolated from Gpr54 null mice. Continuous Kp stimulation caused a sustained GnRH release for 4 h, followed by a decrease of GnRH release, suggesting a desensitization of GPR54 activity. Tetrodotoxin did not alter the Kp-induced GnRH release, indicating that Kp can act directly at the GnRH nerve terminals. To localize Gpr54 expression within the MBH, we used transgenic mice, in which Gpr54 expression is tagged with an IRES-LacZ reporter gene and can be visualized by beta-galactosidase staining. Gpr54 expression was detected outside of the median eminence, in the pars tuberalis. In conclusion, our results provide evidence for a potent stimulating effect of Kp at GnRH nerve terminals in the MBH of the mouse. This study suggests a new point at which Kp can act on GnRH neurons.