Prenatal androgen treatment does not alter the firing activity of hypothalamic arcuate kisspeptin neurons in female mice

Associated faculty or student(s): Publication Date:
Thursday, September 9, 2021

Neuroendocrine control of reproduction is disrupted in many individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome, who present with increased luteinizing hormone (LH), and presumably gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), release frequency, and high androgen levels. Prenatal androgenization (PNA) recapitulates these phenotypes in primates and rodents. Female offspring of mice injected with dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on gestational D16-18 exhibit disrupted estrous cyclicity, increased LH and testosterone, and increased GnRH neuron firing rate as adults. PNA also alters the developmental trajectory of GnRH neuron firing rates, markedly blunting the prepubertal peak in firing that occurs in 3wk-old controls. GnRH neurons do not express detectable androgen receptors and are thus probably not the direct target of DHT. Rather, PNA likely alters GnRH neuronal activity by modulating upstream neurons, such as hypothalamic arcuate neurons co-expressing kisspeptin, neurokinin B (gene Tac2), and dynorphin, aka KNDy neurons. We hypothesized PNA treatment changes firing rates of KNDy neurons in a similar age-dependent manner as GnRH neurons. We conducted targeted extracellular recordings (0.5-2h) of Tac2-identified KNDy neurons from control and PNA mice at 3wks of age and in adulthood. About half of neurons were quiescent (<0.005Hz). Long-term firing rates of active cells varied, suggestive of episodic activity, but were not different among groups. Short-term burst firing was also similar. We thus reject the hypothesis that PNA alters the firing rate of KNDy neurons. This does not preclude altered neurosecretory output of KNDy neurons, involvement of other neuronal populations, or in-vivo networks as critical drivers of altered GnRH firing rates in PNA mice.

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