Orexin a suppresses gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neuron activity in the mouse

Endocrinology. 2012 Aug;153(8):3850-60. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-1300. Epub 2012 Jun 6.


GnRH neurons are critical for the central regulation of fertility, integrating steroidal, metabolic and other cues. GnRH neurons appear to lack receptors for many of these cues, suggesting involvement of afferent systems to convey information. Orexin A (orexin) is of interest in this regard as a neuromodulator that up-regulates metabolic activity, increases wakefulness, and affects GnRH/LH release. We examined the electrophysiological response of GnRH neurons to orexin application and how this response changes with estradiol and time of day in a defined animal model. Mice were either ovariectomized (OVX) or OVX and implanted with estradiol capsules (OVX+E). GnRH neurons from OVX+E mice exhibit low firing rates in the morning, due to estradiol-negative feedback, and high firing rates in the evening, due to positive feedback. Orexin inhibited activity of GnRH neurons from OVX mice independent of time of day. In GnRH neurons from OVX+E mice, orexin was inhibitory during the evening, suggesting orexin inhibition is not altered by estradiol. No effect of orexin was observed in OVX+E morning recordings, due to low basal GnRH activity. Inhibitory effects of orexin were mediated by the type 1 orexin receptor, but antagonism of this receptor did not increase GnRH neuron activity during estradiol-negative feedback. Spike pattern analysis revealed orexin increases interevent interval by reducing the number of single spikes and bursts. Orexin reduced spikes/burst and burst duration but did not affect intraburst interval. This suggests orexin may reduce overall firing rate by suppressing spike initiation and burst maintenance in GnRH neurons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / pharmacology*
  • Orexins


  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Orexins
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone