Authors: Merkley, Christina M.; Shuping, Sydney L.; Sommer, Jeffrey R.; Nestor, Casey C.
Issue: Metabolites . 2021 Feb 26;11(3):138.
Agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons, which relay information from peripheral metabolic signals, may constitute a key central regulator of reproduction. Given that AgRP inhibits luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion and that nutritional suppression of LH elicits an increase in AgRP while suppressing kisspeptin expression in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of the hypothalamus, we sought to examine the degree to which AgRP could directly regulate ARC kisspeptin neurons. Hypothalamic tissue was collected from four castrated male sheep (10 months of age) and processed for the detection of protein (AgRP input to kisspeptin neurons) using immunohistochemistry and mRNA for melanocortin 3 and 4 receptors (MC3R; MC4R) in kisspeptin neurons using RNAscope. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that the majority of ARC kisspeptin neurons are contacted by presumptive AgRP terminals. RNAscope analysis revealed that nearly two thirds of the ARC kisspeptin neurons express mRNA for MC3R, while a small percentage (<10%) colocalize MC4R. Taken together, this data provides neuroanatomical evidence for a direct link between orexigenic AgRP neurons and reproductively critical kisspeptin neurons in the sheep, and builds upon our current understanding of the central link between energy balance and reproduction.