Distinct dynorphin expression patterns with low- and high-dose estrogen treatment in the arcuate nucleus of female rats

Biol Reprod. 2017 Nov 1;97(5):709-718. doi: 10.1093/biolre/iox131.


Kisspeptin (KISS1; encoded by Kiss1) neurons in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) coexpress tachykinin 3 (TAC3; also known as neurokinin B) and dynorphin A (PDYN). Accordingly, they are termed KNDy neurons and considered to be crucial in generating pulsatile release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone. Accumulating evidence suggests that Kiss1 and Tac3 are negatively regulated by estrogen. However, it has not been fully determined whether and how estrogen modulates Pdyn and PDYN. Here, we examined the expression of Pdyn mRNA and PDYN by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, respectively, in the ARC of female rats after ovariectomy (OVX) and OVX plus low- or high-dose beta-estradiol (E2) replacement. We also investigated the effect of E2 on expression of Kiss1, KISS1, Tac3, and TAC3. Furthermore, colocalization of PDYN and estrogen receptor alpha (ESR1) was determined. Subsequently, we found that low-dose E2 treatment had no effect on Pdyn mRNA-expressing cells, but increased PDYN-immunoreactive (ir) cell numbers. In contrast, high-dose E2 treatment resulted in prominent reductions in both Pdyn mRNA-expressing and PDYN-ir cell numbers. Changes induced by low or high doses of E2 were similarly observed in the expression of Kiss1, KISS1, Tac3, and TAC3. The majority of PDYN-ir neurons coexpressed ESR1 in all groups. Our results indicate that E2 regulates the expression of PDYN, as well as KISS1 and TAC3, with regulation by E2 differing according to its levels.

Keywords: KNDy neuron; arcuate nucleus (ARC); dynorphin; estrogen; female rats; gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH); kisspeptin; luteinizing hormone (LH); negative feedback; neurokinin B.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / cytology*
  • Dynorphins / genetics
  • Dynorphins / metabolism*
  • Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Kisspeptins / genetics
  • Kisspeptins / metabolism
  • Neurokinin B / genetics
  • Neurokinin B / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Ovariectomy
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Kiss1 protein, rat
  • Kisspeptins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Estradiol
  • Dynorphins
  • Neurokinin B