Female-Specific Glucose Sensitivity of GnRH1 Neurons Leads to Sexually Dimorphic Inhibition of Reproduction in Medaka

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Close interaction exists between energy-consuming reproduction and nutritional status. However, there are differences in costs and priority for reproduction among species and even between sexes, which leads to diversification of interactions between reproduction and nutritional status. Despite such diversified interactions among species and sexes, most of the analysis of the nutritional status-dependent regulation of reproduction has been limited to an endothermic vertebrate, mammalian species of either sex. Therefore, the mechanisms underlying the diversified interactions remain elusive. In the present study, we demonstrated the effects of malnutritional status on reproduction at both organismal and cellular levels in an ectothermic vertebrate, a teleost medaka of both sexes. First, we analyzed the effects of malnutrition by fasting on gonadosomatic index, number of spawned/fertilized eggs, and courtship behavior. Fasting strongly suppressed reproduction in females but, surprisingly, not in males. Next, we analyzed the effects of fasting on firing activity of hypothalamic GnRH1 neurons, which form the final common pathway for the control of reproduction. An electrophysiological analysis showed that low glucose, which is induced by fasting, directly suppresses the firing activity of GnRH1 neurons specifically in females through intracellular ATP-sensitive potassium channels and AMP-activated protein kinase pathways. Based on the fact that such suppressions occurred only in females, we conclude that nutritional status-dependent, glucose-sensing in GnRH1 neurons may contribute to the most fitted reproductive regulation for each sex.

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