Mapping of Kisspeptin Receptor mRNA in the Whole Rat Brain and its Co-Localisation with Oxytocin in the Paraventricular Nucleus

J Neuroendocrinol. 2016 Apr;28(4). doi: 10.1111/jne.12356.


The neuropeptide kisspeptin and its receptor play an essential role in reproduction as a potent modulator of the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurone. In addition to its reproductive function, kisspeptin signalling is also involved in extra-hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis systems, including oxytocin and arginine vasopressin (AVP) secretion. By contrast to the accumulating information for kisspeptin neurones and kisspeptin fibres, the histological distribution and function of the kisspeptin receptor in the rat brain remain poorly characterised. Using in situ hybridisation combined with immunofluorescence, the present study aimed to determine the whole brain map of Kiss1r mRNA (encoding the kisspeptin receptor), and to examine whether oxytocin or AVP neurones express Kiss1r. Neurones with strong Kiss1r expression were observed in several rostral brain areas, including the olfactory bulb, medial septum, diagonal band of Broca and throughout the preoptic area, with the most concentrated population being around 0.5 mm rostral to the bregma. Co-immunofluorescence staining revealed that, in these rostral brain areas, the vast majority of the Kiss1r-expressing neurones co-expressed GnRH. Moderate levels of Kiss1r mRNA were also noted in the rostral periventricular area, paraventricular nucleus (PVN), and throughout the arcuate nucleus. Relatively weak Kiss1r expression was observed in the supraoptic nucleus and supramammillary nuclei. Moderate to weak expression of Kiss1r was also observed in several regions in the midbrain, including the periaqueductal gray and dorsal raphe nucleus. We also examined whether oxytocin and AVP neurones in the PVN co-express Kiss1r. Immunofluorescence revealed the co-expression of Kiss1r in a subset of the oxytocin neurones but not in the AVP neurones in the PVN. The present study provides a fundamental anatomical basis for further examination of the kisspeptin signalling system in the extra-HPG axis, as well as in reproductive function.

Keywords: GPR54; kisspeptin receptor; oxytocin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine Vasopressin / biosynthesis
  • Arginine Vasopressin / genetics
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / biosynthesis
  • Molecular Imaging*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Oxytocin / analysis*
  • Oxytocin / metabolism
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Transgenic
  • Receptors, Kisspeptin-1 / analysis*
  • Receptors, Kisspeptin-1 / genetics*


  • Receptors, Kisspeptin-1
  • Arginine Vasopressin
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Oxytocin