Suppression of the GnRH pulse generator by neurokinin B involves a κ-opioid receptor-dependent mechanism

P Grachev, X F Li, J S Kinsey-Jones, A L di Domenico, R P Millar, S L Lightman, K T O'Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Neurokinin B (NKB) and its receptor (NK3R) are coexpressed with kisspeptin, Dynorphin A (Dyn), and their receptors [G-protein-coupled receptor-54 (GPR54)] and κ-opioid receptor (KOR), respectively] within kisspeptin/NKB/Dyn (KNDy) neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC), the proposed site of the GnRH pulse generator. Much previous research has employed intracerebroventricular (icv) administration of KNDy agonists and antagonists to address the functions of KNDy neurons. We performed a series of in vivo neuropharmacological experiments aiming to determine the role of NKB/NK3R signaling in modulating the GnRH pulse generator and elucidate the interaction between KNDy neuropeptide signaling systems, targeting our interventions to ARC KNDy neurons. First, we investigated the effect of intra-ARC administration of the selective NK3R agonist, senktide, on pulsatile LH secretion using a frequent automated serial sampling method to obtain blood samples from freely moving ovariectomized 17β-estradiol-replaced rats. Our results show that senktide suppresses LH pulses in a dose-dependent manner. Intra-ARC administration of U50488, a selective KOR agonist, also caused a dose-dependent, albeit more modest, decrease in LH pulse frequency. Thus we tested the hypothesis that Dyn/KOR signaling localized to the ARC mediates the senktide-induced suppression of the LH pulse by profiling pulsatile LH secretion in response to senktide in rats pretreated with nor-binaltorphimine, a selective KOR antagonist. We show that nor-binaltorphimine blocks the senktide-induced suppression of pulsatile LH secretion but does not affect LH pulse frequency per se. In order to address the effects of acute activation of ARC NK3R, we quantified (using quantitative RT-PCR) changes in mRNA levels of KNDy-associated genes in hypothalamic micropunches following intra-ARC administration of senktide. Senktide down-regulated expression of genes encoding GnRH and GPR54 (GNRH1 and Kiss1r, respectively), but did not affect the expression of Kiss1 (which encodes kisspeptin). We conclude that NKB suppresses the GnRH pulse generator in a KOR-dependent fashion and regulates gene expression in GnRH neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4894-904
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus/drug effects
  • Estradiol/blood
  • Estrous Cycle/drug effects
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone/genetics
  • Kisspeptins/genetics
  • Luteinizing Hormone/metabolism
  • Neurokinin B
  • Peptide Fragments/pharmacology
  • Preoptic Area/drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled/genetics
  • Receptors, Kisspeptin-1
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-3/agonists
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa/metabolism
  • Substance P/analogs & derivatives

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