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Hyperactive LH Pulses and Elevated Kisspeptin and NKB Gene Expression in the Arcuate Nucleus of a PCOS Mouse Model.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common reproductive disorder in women, is characterized by hyperandrogenemia, chronic anovulation, cystic ovarian follicles, and luteinizing hormone (LH) hyper-pulsatility, but the pathophysiology isn't completely understood. We recently reported a novel mouse model of PCOS using chronic letrozole (LET; aromatase inhibitor). Letrozole-treated females demonstrate multiple PCOS-like phenotypes, including polycystic ovaries, anovulation, and elevated circulating testosterone and LH, assayed in "one-off" measures. However, due to technical limitations, in vivo LH pulsatile secretion, which is elevated in PCOS women, was not previously studied, nor were the possible changes in reproductive neurons. Here, we used recent technical advances to examine in vivo LH pulse dynamics of freely moving LET female mice versus control and ovariectomized (OVX) mice. We also determined whether neural gene expression of important reproductive regulators such as kisspeptin, neurokinin B (NKB), and dynorphin, is altered in LET females. Compared to controls, LET females exhibited very rapid, elevated in vivo LH pulsatility, with increased pulse frequency, amplitude, and basal levels, similar to PCOS women. Letrozole-treated mice also had markedly elevated Kiss1, Tac2, and Pdyn expression and increased Kiss1 neuronal activation in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus. Notably, the hyperactive LH pulses and increased kisspeptin neuron measures of LET mice were not as elevated as OVX females. Our findings indicate that LET mice, like PCOS women, have markedly elevated LH pulsatility, which likely drives increased androgen secretion. Increased hypothalamic kisspeptin and NKB levels may be fundamental contributors to the hyperactive LH pulse secretion in the LET PCOS-like condition and, perhaps, in PCOS women.

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