Hypothalamic concentrations of kisspeptin and gonadotropin-releasing hormone during the breeding season and non-breeding season in ewes

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2019 Aug;82(2):e13146. doi: 10.1111/aji.13146. Epub 2019 Jun 17.


Problem: Current methods to quantify kisspeptin (KP) are limited. To this end, a radioimmunoassay (RIA) specific for KP was developed and validated. We hypothesized that use of a RIA would reveal multiple hypothalamic regions as targets of negative seasonal feedback of estradiol on KP production in sheep.

Method of study: Ovariectomized (OVX) ewes bearing a subcutaneous implant of estradiol were euthanized during the breeding season (BS) (n = 4) and non-breeding season (NBS) (n = 3). Coronal sections of preoptic area (POA), anterior hypothalamic area (AHA), and mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) were collected, as well as the median eminence (ME), cortex, brain stem, and cerebellum. Amounts of KP and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in individual hypothalamic nuclei were quantified by radioimmunoassay.

Results: Concentration and content of KP were lower during the NBS than the BS in the MBH (P < 0.01) and POA (P < 0.01). Levels of KP in tissue adjacent to the POA and MBH were much lower, and neither concentration nor content of KP differed between the BS and NBS. Kisspeptin was also detected in the cortex, brain stem, and cerebellum, but concentrations were not affected by season. In addition, concentration and content of GnRH in the POA, AHA, MBH, and ME were similar between seasons.

Conclusion: Our RIA results indicate that in addition to the MBH, the POA and AHA appear to be involved in the seasonal negative feedback of estradiol on KP expression.

Keywords: breeding season; gonadotropin-releasing hormone; hypothalamus; kisspeptin; non-breeding season; radioimmunoassay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cerebellar Cortex / metabolism*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamus, Middle / metabolism*
  • Kisspeptins / metabolism*
  • Preoptic Area / metabolism*
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Seasons
  • Sheep / metabolism*


  • Kisspeptins
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Estradiol