Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Final piece found in puzzle of brain circuitry controlling fertility

Date:
September 20, 2013
Source:
University of Otago
Summary:
In a landmark discovery, the final piece in the puzzle of understanding how the brain circuitry vital to normal fertility in humans and other mammals operates has been put together by researchers.

In a landmark discovery, the final piece in the puzzle of understanding how the brain circuitry vital to normal fertility in humans and other mammals operates has been put together by researchers at New Zealand's University of Otago.

Their new findings, which appear in the leading international journal Nature Communications, will be critical to enabling the design of novel therapies for infertile couples as well as new forms of contraception.

The research team, led by Otago neuroscientist Professor Allan Herbison, have discovered the key cellular location of signalling between a small protein known as kisspeptin* and its receptor, called Gpr54. Kisspeptin had earlier been found to be crucial for fertility in humans, and in a subsequent major breakthrough Professor Herbison showed that this molecule was also vital for ovulation to occur.

In the latest research, Professor Herbison and colleagues at Otago and Heidelberg University, Germany, provide conclusive evidence that the kisspeptin-Gpr54 signalling occurs in a small population of nerve cells in the brain called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons.

Using state-of-the-art techniques, the researchers studied mice that lacked Gpr54 receptors in only their GnRH neurons and found that these did not undergo puberty and were infertile. They then showed that infertile mice could be rescued back to completely normal fertility by inserting the Gpr54 gene into just the GnRH neurons.

Professor Herbison says the findings represent a substantial step forward in enabling new treatments for infertility and new classes of contraceptives to be developed.

"Infertility is a major issue affecting millions of people worldwide. It's currently estimated that up to 20 per cent of New Zealand couples are infertile, and it is thought that up to one-third of all cases of infertility in women involve disorders in the area of brain circuitry we are studying.

"Our new understanding of the exact mechanism by which kisspeptin acts as a master controller of reproduction is an exciting breakthrough which opens up avenues for tackling what is often a very heart-breaking health issue. Through detailing this mechanism we now have a key chemical switch to which drugs can be precisely targeted," Professor Herbison says.

As well as the findings' benefits for advancing new therapies for infertility and approaches to controlling fertility, they suggest that targeting kisspeptin may be valuable in treating diseases such as prostate cancer that are influenced by sex steroid hormone levels in the blood, he says.

Professor Herbison noted that the research findings represent a long-standing collaborative effort with the laboratory of Professor Gunther Schutz at Heidelberg University, Germany.

Professor Herbison is Director of the University's Centre for Neuroendocrinology, which is the world-leading research centre investigating how the brain controls fertility.

"We are delighted to have published this work in one of the top scientific journals and also to be able to maintain the leading role of New Zealand researchers in understanding fertility control," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Otago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Milen Kirilov, Jenny Clarkson, Xinhuai Liu, Juan Roa, Pauline Campos, Rob Porteous, Gόnther Schόtz, Allan E. Herbison. Dependence of fertility on kisspeptin–Gpr54 signaling at the GnRH neuron. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3492

Cite This Page:

University of Otago. "Final piece found in puzzle of brain circuitry controlling fertility." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920102109.htm>.
University of Otago. (2013, September 20). Final piece found in puzzle of brain circuitry controlling fertility. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920102109.htm
University of Otago. "Final piece found in puzzle of brain circuitry controlling fertility." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920102109.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) — A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins