Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) neuron excitability is regulated by estradiol feedback and kisspeptin


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons produce the central output controlling fertility and are regulated by steroid feedback. A switch from estradiol negative to positive feedback initiates the GnRH surge, ultimately triggering ovulation. This occurs on a daily basis in ovariectomized, estradiol-treated (OVX + E) mice; GnRH neurons are suppressed in the morning and activated in the afternoon. To test the hypotheses that estradiol and time of day signals alter GnRH neuron responsiveness to stimuli, GFP-identified GnRH neurons in brain slices from OVX + E or OVX female mice were recorded during the morning or afternoon. No differences were observed in baseline membrane potential. Current-clamp revealed GnRH neurons fired more action potentials in response to current injection during positive feedback relative to all other groups, which were not different from each other despite reports of differing ionic conductances. Kisspeptin increased GnRH neuron response in cells from OVX and OVX + E mice in the morning but not afternoon. Paradoxically, excitability in kisspeptin knock-out mice was similar to the maximum observed in control mice but was unchanged by time of day or estradiol. A mathematical model applying a Markov Chain Monte Carlo method to estimate probability distributions for estradiol-and time of day-dependent parameters was used to predict intrinsic properties underlying excitability changes. A single identifiable distribution of solutions accounted for similar GnRH neuron excitability in all groups other than positive feedback despite different underlying conductance properties; this was attributable to interdependence of voltage-gated potassium channel properties. In contrast, redundant solutions may explain positive feedback, perhaps indicative of the importance of this state for species survival.