Conditional Viral Tract Tracing Delineates the Projections of the Distinct Kisspeptin Neuron Populations to Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Neurons in the Mouse

Endocrinology. 2015 Jul;156(7):2582-94. doi: 10.1210/en.2015-1131. Epub 2015 Apr 9.


Kisspeptin neurons play an essential role in the regulation of fertility through direct regulation of the GnRH neurons. However, the relative contributions of the two functionally distinct kisspeptin neuron subpopulations to this critical regulation are not fully understood. Here we analyzed the specific projection patterns of kisspeptin neurons originating from either the rostral periventricular nucleus of the third ventricle (RP3V) or the arcuate nucleus (ARN) using a cell-specific, viral-mediated tract-tracing approach. We stereotaxically injected a Cre-dependent recombinant adenovirus encoding farnesylated enhanced green fluorescent protein into the ARN or RP3V of adult male and female mice expressing Cre recombinase in kisspeptin neurons. Fibers from ARN kisspeptin neurons projected widely; however, we did not find any evidence for direct contact with GnRH neuron somata or proximal dendrites in either sex. In contrast, we identified RP3V kisspeptin fibers in close contact with GnRH neuron somata and dendrites in both sexes. Fibers originating from both the RP3V and ARN were observed in close contact with distal GnRH neuron processes in the ARN and in the lateral and internal aspects of the median eminence. Furthermore, GnRH nerve terminals were found in close contact with the proximal dendrites of ARN kisspeptin neurons in the ARN, and ARN kisspeptin fibers were found contacting RP3V kisspeptin neurons in both sexes. Together these data delineate selective zones of kisspeptin neuron inputs to GnRH neurons and demonstrate complex interconnections between the distinct kisspeptin populations and GnRH neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae
  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / cytology
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Dendrites / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Hypothalamus / cytology*
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus, Anterior / cytology
  • Hypothalamus, Anterior / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus, Posterior / cytology
  • Hypothalamus, Posterior / metabolism
  • Kisspeptins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism


  • Kisspeptins
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone