Acute Suppression of LH Secretion by Prolactin in Female Mice Is Mediated by Kisspeptin Neurons in the Arcuate Nucleus

Endocrinology. 2019 May 1;160(5):1323-1332. doi: 10.1210/en.2019-00038.


Hyperprolactinemia causes infertility, but the specific mechanism is unknown. It is clear that elevated prolactin levels suppress pulsatile release of GnRH from the hypothalamus, with a consequent reduction in pulsatile LH secretion from the pituitary. Only a few GnRH neurons express prolactin receptors (Prlrs), however, and thus prolactin must act indirectly in the underlying neural circuitry. Here, we have tested the hypothesis that prolactin-induced inhibition of LH secretion is mediated by kisspeptin neurons, which provide major excitatory inputs to GnRH neurons. To evaluate pulsatile LH secretion, we collected serial blood samples from diestrous mice and measured LH levels by ultrasensitive ELISA. Acute prolactin administration decreased LH pulses in wild-type mice. Kisspeptin neurons in the arcuate nucleus and in the rostral periventricular area of the third ventricle (RP3V) acutely responded to prolactin, but prolactin-induced signaling in kisspeptin neurons was up to fourfold higher in the arcuate nucleus when compared with the RP3V. Consistent with this, conditional knockout of Prlr specifically in arcuate nucleus kisspeptin neurons prevented prolactin-induced suppression of LH secretion. Our data establish that during hyperprolactinemia, suppression of pulsatile LH secretion is mediated by Prlr on arcuate kisspeptin neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / cytology
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / drug effects*
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Hyperprolactinemia / genetics
  • Hyperprolactinemia / metabolism
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Kisspeptins / metabolism*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Prolactin / administration & dosage
  • Prolactin / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Prolactin / genetics
  • Receptors, Prolactin / metabolism


  • Kisspeptins
  • Receptors, Prolactin
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone