Hypothalamic peptidergic neurons using kisspeptin (KP) and its co-transmitters for communication are critically involved in the regulation of mammalian reproduction and puberty. This article provides an overview of neuropeptides present in KP neurons, with a focus on the human species. Immunohistochemical studies reveal that large subsets of human KP neurons synthesize neurokinin B, as also shown in laboratory animals. In contrast, dynorphin described in KP neurons of rodents and sheep is found rarely in KP cells of human males and postmenopausal females. Similarly, galanin is detectable in mouse, but not human, KP cells, whereas substance P, cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript and proenkephalin-derived opioids are expressed in varying subsets of KP neurons in humans, but not reported in ARC of other species. Human KP neurons do not contain neurotensin, cholecystokinin, proopiomelanocortin-derivatives, agouti-related protein, neuropeptide Y, somatostatin or tyrosine hydroxylase (dopamine). These data identify the possible co-transmitters of human KP cells. Neurochemical properties distinct from those of laboratory species indicate that humans use considerably different neurotransmitter mechanisms to regulate fertility.
Keywords: CART; dynorphin; hypothalamus; kisspeptin; neurokinin B; reproduction; substance P.