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Keywords:

  • kisspeptin;
  • RP3V;
  • oestradiol;
  • testosterone;
  • puberty

Kisspeptin and its G-protein coupled receptor Gpr54 are essential for the pubertal activation of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurones, with Gpr54 mutation or deletion resulting in failed puberty and infertility in humans and mice. The number of kisspeptin-immunoreactive neurones in the rostral periventricular area of the third ventricle (RP3V) increases during pubertal development in concert with the appearance of kisspeptin appositions with GnRH neurones in the mouse rostral preoptic area. We recently demonstrated that the pubertal increase in RP3V kisspeptin neuronal number in females is dependent upon circulating oestradiol levels. The present experiments investigated the potential role of gonadal steroids in the induction of kisspeptin expression in the RP3V during pubertal development in the male mouse. Using immunocytochemistry (ICC), we show that gonadectomy of male pups at postnatal day (P) 20 resulted in a 60–70% reduction in the number of kisspeptin immunoreactive (IR) neurones within the RP3V of P45 mice (P < 0.05) compared to sham-treated littermates. We established a profile of circulating testosterone levels during postnatal development in male mice and found that circulating testosterone was low throughout early postnatal development and increased from P35–40 to reach adult levels. Treatment of P20-gonadectomised male mice with 17β-oestradiol or testosterone from P38–45 restored kisspeptin-IR neurone number in the RP3V to intact control levels (P > 0.05). Using double-label ICC, we demonstrate that the majority of RP3V kisspeptin neurones express androgen receptors and oestrogen receptor α, indicating that RP3V kisspeptin neurones in the male mouse are equipped to respond to both androgen and oestrogen signals. These results indicate that, as in females, gonadal steroids are essential for the increase in kisspeptin immunoreactive cell number that occurs in the RP3V during pubertal development in the male mouse.