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Keywords:

  • astrocyte;
  • brain;
  • cell adhesion molecule;
  • olfactory

Abstract

The neurohormone gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is critical for all the aspects of reproductive life in vertebrates. GnRH is secreted by a small number of neurons dispersed within the preoptic-hypothalamic region. These neurons are derived from the embryonic olfactory pit. They then migrate along olfactory, vomeronasal and terminal nerves to their final destination. Classical approaches to study the regulation of GnRH secretion during the reproductive cycle have focused on the various neuronal inputs on GnRH neurons and their regulation by ovarian steroids. However, it is well known that steroids will change the microenvironment of neuronal networks and can induce plasticity and functional changes. In this review, we will focus on the intimate relationship of developing and adult GnRH neurons with the polysialylated form of neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM), a major molecular actor in the morphogenesis and adult plasticity of the nervous system. We will first recapitulate the spatiotemporal relationship between PSA-NCAM and migrating GnRH neurons during embryogenesis of various vertebrate species and discuss its importance for GnRH neuron development as shown by various loss of function studies. In the adult, we will review the relationships between PSA-NCAM and GnRH neurons across various physiological states, and open the discussion to the use of new model systems that can help to unravel the function and mechanism of action of PSA-NCAM on GnRH neuronal network activity and GnRH release.