Studies of the localisation of kisspeptin within the pituitary of the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) and the effect of kisspeptin on the release of non-gonadotropic pituitary hormones

J Neuroendocrinol. 2009 Oct;21(10):795-804. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2009.01905.x. Epub 2009 Jul 21.


Kisspeptin neurones in the arcuate nucleus play a pivotal role in the regulation of hypothalamic gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion in higher primates. To examine whether kisspeptin also influences the function of the primate pituitary directly, two experiments were performed in adult male rhesus monkeys. First, the distribution of kisspeptin-containing cells in the pituitary was described using fluorescence immunohistochemistry. Second, the secretion of non-gonadotrophin adenohypophysial hormones [growth hormone (GH), prolactin and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)] and cortisol in response to i.v. kisspeptin administration was examined. Eight animals were deeply anaesthetised and transcardially perfused with 4% paraformaldehyde. Fluorescence immunohistochemistry was performed on 25-microm thick free-floating pituitary sections to localise immunopositive kisspeptin cells and to examine their relationship with immunostaining for luteinising hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone, GH, prolactin, alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and GnRH. Kisspeptin cells were found in the intermediate lobe of all animals and, in four monkeys, this neuropeptide was also observed in cells scattered in the periphery of the anterior lobe. Kisspeptin colocalised with alpha-MSH-immunopositive cells in the intermediate lobe and, in 50% of the monkeys, with ACTH-immuunopositive cells in the periphery of the adenohypophysis. There was no evidence for colocalisation of kisspeptin with gonadotrophs, somatotrophs or lactotrophs. Beaded kisspeptin axons were observed in the neural lobe. In addition, assay of plasma samples that had been collected for a previous study documenting kisspeptin-10-induced LH release in male monkeys revealed that kisspeptin administration failed to influence circulating concentrations of GH, prolactin, TSH and cortisol. Release of all four of these non-gonadotrophic hormones, however, was stimulated markedly by NMDA, which is considered to act centrally. Although the morphological findings obtained in the present study are consistent with the notion that kisspeptin may act directly at the level of the pituitary, the nature of such an action remains to be defined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kisspeptins
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • N-Methylaspartate / metabolism
  • Pituitary Gland / metabolism*
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / metabolism
  • Pituitary Gland, Intermediate / metabolism
  • Pituitary Hormones / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / pharmacology


  • KISS1 protein, human
  • Kisspeptins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • N-Methylaspartate