Projections of arcuate nucleus and rostral periventricular kisspeptin neurons in the adult female mouse brain

Endocrinology. 2011 Jun;152(6):2387-99. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-0164. Epub 2011 Apr 12.


The important role of kisspeptin neurons in the regulation of GnRH neuron activity is now well accepted. However, the ways in which kisspeptin neurons located in the arcuate nucleus (ARN) and rostral periventricular area of the third ventricle (RP3V) control GnRH neurons are poorly understood. The present study used anterograde and retrograde tracing techniques to establish the neuronal projection patterns of kisspeptin cell populations in the female mouse brain. Anterograde tracing studies revealed that kisspeptin neurons in the ARN innervated a wide number of hypothalamic and associated limbic region nuclei, whereas RP3V kisspeptin neurons projected to a smaller number of mostly medially located hypothalamic nuclei. Retrograde tracing confirmed a major projection of RP3V kisspeptin neurons to the ARN and showed that kisspeptin neurons located in the rostral half of the ARN projected to the rostral preoptic area. Peripheral administration of Fluorogold was found to label the majority of GnRH neurons but no kisspeptin neurons. Together, these studies highlight the complexity of the brain kisspeptin neuronal system and indicate that both ARN and RP3V kisspeptin neurons participate in a variety of limbic functions. In relation to the GnRH neuronal network, these investigations demonstrate that, alongside the RP3V kisspeptin cells, rostral ARN kisspeptin neurons may also project to GnRH neuron cell bodies. However, no kisspeptin neurons innervate GnRH nerve terminals in the external layer of the median eminence. These studies provide a neuroanatomical framework for the further elucidation of the functions of the ARN and RP3V kisspeptin neuron populations.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Female
  • Kisspeptins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Third Ventricle / metabolism*


  • Kiss1 protein, mouse
  • Kisspeptins