Break through in brain circuitry controlling fertility


The final piece in the puzzle of understanding how the brain circuitry vital to normal fertility operates has been put together by a team of researchers from New Zealand. This groundbreaking discovery appears in the leading international journal Nature Communications. This information will be critical to enabling the design of novel therapies for infertile couples as well as for developing new forms of contraception.

The key to kisspeptin

Neuroscientist Allan Herbison and team discovered the key cellular location of signaling between a small protein known as kisspeptin and its receptor called Gpr54. Kisspeptin has been known to be crucial for fertility and in a subsequent break through; Professor Herbison showed how it was vital to ovulation as well. In this latest study, his team provided conclusive evidence that the kisspeptin-Gpr54 signaling occurs in a small population of nerve cells in the brain called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons.

Key to the chemical lock for many struggling with infertility

“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’re 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 heartbreaking health issue. Through detailing this mechanism we now have key chemical switch to which drugs can be precisely targeted,” explained Professor Herbison.

The information may also help treat diseases like prostate cancer which are influenced by sex steroid hormone levels in the blood.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Nature Communications


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