Background: Kisspeptins, encoded by Kiss1, have emerged as essential regulators of puberty and reproduction by primarily acting on GnRH neurons, via their canonical receptor, Gpr54. Mounting, as yet fragmentary, evidence strongly suggests that kisspeptin signaling may also participate in the control of key aspects of body energy and metabolic homeostasis. However, characterization of such metabolic dimension of kisspeptins remains uncomplete, without an unambiguous discrimination between the primary metabolic actions of kisspeptins vs. those derived from their ability to stimulate the secretion of gonadal hormones, which have distinct metabolic actions on their own. In this work, we aimed to tease apart primary vs. secondary effects of kisspeptins in the control of key aspects of metabolic homeostasis using genetic models of impaired kisspeptin signaling and/or gonadal hormone status.
Methods: Body weight (BW) gain and composition, food intake and key metabolic parameters, including glucose tolerance, were comparatively analyzed, in lean and obesogenic conditions, in mice lacking kisspeptin signaling due to global inactivation of Gpr54 (displaying profound hypogonadism; Gpr54-/-) vs. Gpr54 null mice with selective re-introduction of Gpr54 expression only in GnRH cells (Gpr54-/-Tg), where kisspeptin signaling elsewhere than in GnRH neurons is ablated but gonadal function is preserved.
Results: In male mice, global elimination of kisspeptin signaling resulted in decreased BW, feeding suppression and increased adiposity, without overt changes in glucose tolerance, whereas Gpr54-/- female mice displayed enhanced BW gain at adulthood, increased adiposity and perturbed glucose tolerance, despite reduced food intake. Gpr54-/-Tg rescued mice showed altered postnatal BW gain in males and mildly perturbed glucose tolerance in females, with intermediate phenotypes between control and global KO animals. Yet, body composition and leptin levels were similar to controls in gonadal-rescued mice. Exposure to obesogenic insults, such as high fat diet (HFD), resulted in exaggerated BW gain and adiposity in global Gpr54-/- mice of both sexes, and worsening of glucose tolerance, especially in females. Yet, while rescued Gpr54-/-Tg males displayed intermediate BW gain and feeding profiles and impaired glucose tolerance, rescued Gpr54-/-Tg females behaved as controls, except for a modest deterioration of glucose tolerance after ovariectomy.
Conclusion: Our data support a global role of kisspeptin signaling in the control of body weight and metabolic homeostasis, with a dominant contribution of gonadal hormone-dependent actions. However, our results document also discernible primary effects of kisspeptin signaling in the regulation of body weight gain, feeding and responses to obesogenic insults, which occur in a sexually-dimorphic manner.
Summary of translational relevance: Kisspeptins, master regulators of reproduction, may also participate in the control of key aspects of body energy and metabolic homeostasis; yet, the nature of such metabolic actions remains debatable, due in part to the fact that kisspeptins modulate gonadal hormones, which have metabolic actions on their own. By comparing the metabolic profiles of two mouse models with genetic inactivation of kisspeptin signaling but different gonadal status (hypogonadal vs. preserved gonadal function), we provide herein a systematic dissection of gonadal-dependent vs. -independent metabolic actions of kisspeptins. Our data support a global role of kisspeptin signaling in the control of body weight and metabolic homeostasis, with a dominant contribution of gonadal hormone-dependent actions. However, our results document also discernible primary effects of kisspeptin signaling in the regulation of body weight gain, feeding and responses to obesogenic insults, which occur in a sexually-dimorphic manner. These data pave the way for future analyses addressing the eventual contribution of altered kisspeptin signaling in the development of metabolic alterations, especially in conditions linked to reproductive dysfunction.
Keywords: Body weight; Glucose homeostasis; GnRH neurons; Gonadal hormones; Gpr54; Kiss1; Kisspeptin; Metabolism.
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