Kisspeptin signaling in the brain

Endocr Rev. 2009 Oct;30(6):713-43. doi: 10.1210/er.2009-0005. Epub 2009 Sep 21.


Kisspeptin (a product of the Kiss1 gene) and its receptor (GPR54 or Kiss1r) have emerged as key players in the regulation of reproduction. Mutations in humans or genetically targeted deletions in mice of either Kiss1 or Kiss1r cause profound hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Neurons that express Kiss1/kisspeptin are found in discrete nuclei in the hypothalamus, as well as other brain regions in many vertebrates, and their distribution, regulation, and function varies widely across species. Kisspeptin neurons directly innervate and stimulate GnRH neurons, which are the final common pathway through which the brain regulates reproduction. Kisspeptin neurons are sexually differentiated with respect to cell number and transcriptional activity in certain brain nuclei, and some kisspeptin neurons express other cotransmitters, including dynorphin and neurokinin B (whose physiological significance is unknown). Kisspeptin neurons express the estrogen receptor and the androgen receptor, and these cells are direct targets for the action of gonadal steroids in both male and female animals. Kisspeptin signaling in the brain has been implicated in mediating the negative feedback action of sex steroids on gonadotropin secretion, generating the preovulatory GnRH/LH surge, triggering and guiding the tempo of sexual maturation at puberty, controlling seasonal reproduction, and restraining reproductive activity during lactation. Kisspeptin signaling may also serve diverse functions outside of the classical realm of reproductive neuroendocrinology, including the regulation of metastasis in certain cancers, vascular dynamics, placental physiology, and perhaps even higher-order brain function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Fishes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / metabolism
  • Kisspeptins
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Reproduction*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / physiology*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism


  • KISS1 protein, human
  • Kiss1 protein, mouse
  • Kiss1 protein, rat
  • Kiss1 protein, zebrafish
  • Kisspeptins
  • Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins