From nose to fertility: the long migratory journey of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons

Trends Neurosci. 2007 Dec;30(12):638-44. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2007.09.002. Epub 2007 Nov 5.


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons, a small number of cells dispersed in the hypothalamic region of the basal forebrain, play an important role in reproductive function. These neurons originate in the nasal placode and migrate, first in the nasal compartment, then through the cribriform plate and finally through the basal forebrain, before they attain their positions in the hypothalamus. Their movement through changing molecular environments suggests that numerous factors are involved in different phases of their migration. In humans, failure of GnRH neurons to migrate normally results in delayed or absent pubertal maturation and infertility. Advances in genetic and molecular biologic techniques in this decade have allowed us to gain insights into several molecules that affect the migration of GnRH neurons and, consequently, play a role in the establishment and maintenance of reproductive function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Fertility / physiology*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Nasal Mucosa / innervation
  • Nasal Mucosa / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / cytology
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Pheromones / physiology*
  • Prosencephalon / cytology
  • Prosencephalon / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Pheromones
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone