Kisspeptin, the product of the KISS1 gene, stimulates gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion; gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH), encoded by the RF-amide-related peptide (RFRP) or NPVF gene, inhibits the reproductive axis. In sheep, kisspeptin neurons are found in the lateral preoptic area (POA) and the arcuate nucleus (ARC) and may be important for initiating the preovulatory GnRH/luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. GnIH cells are located in the ovine dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus (DMN) and paraventricular nucleus (PVN), with similar distribution in the primate. KISS1 cells are found in the primate POA and ARC, but the function that kisspeptin and GnIH play in primates has not been elucidated. We examined KISS1 and NPVF mRNA throughout the menstrual cycle of a female primate, rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), using in situ hybridization. KISS1-expressing cells were found in the POA and ARC, and NPVF-expressing cells were located in the PVN/DMN. KISS1 expression in the caudal ARC and POA was higher in the late follicular phase of the cycle (just before the GnRH/LH surge) than in the luteal phase. NPVF expression was also higher in the late follicular phase. We ascertained whether kisspeptin and/or GnIH cells project to GnRH neurons in the primate. Close appositions of kisspeptin and GnIH fibers were found on GnRH neurons, with no change across the menstrual cycle. These data suggest a role for kisspeptin in the stimulation of GnRH cells before the preovulatory GnRH/LH surge in non-human primates. The role of GnIH is less clear, with paradoxical up-regulation of gene expression in the late follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.
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Vol. 83 • No. 4