Kisspeptin stimulates progesterone secretion via the Erk1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway in rat luteal cells

Kisspeptin could augment progesterone secretion via stimulating key steroidogenic enzymes and phosphorylate Erk1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase in cultured luteal cells.

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Jing Peng, M.D., Min Tang, M.D., Bao-Ping Zhang, M.D., Peng Zhang, B.S., Ting Zhong, M.D., Teng Zong, B.S., Bei Yang, M.D., Hai-Bin Kuang, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 99, Issue 5, Pages 1436-1443.e1, April 2013



To observe the effect of kisspeptin on the endocrine function of rat luteal cells.


Experimental animal study.


Research institute laboratory.


Immature Sprague-Dawley rats.


The expression of kisspeptin and its receptor, GPR54, in immature rat ovaries treated with gonadotropin were observed via immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR. Then, recombinant kisspeptin was used to examine the effect on the endocrine function of rat luteal cells.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Expression and localization of kisspeptin, localization of GPR54, progesterone and estradiol secretion, expression of steroidogenic enzymes and phosphorylation of Erk1/2.


Real-time PCR indicated that ovarian KiSS-1 mRNA levels increased significantly, showing a peak at the luteal period in gonadotropin-primed immature rats. Immunostaining analysis showed that following gonadotropin treatment, kisspeptin was strongly localized in theca cells, the interstitial compartment and the corpus luteum, and GPR54 protein was clearly detected in the corpus luteum of rat ovaries. In cultured luteal cells, kisspeptin treatment augmented basal and hCG-induced progesterone levels, but not estradiol production, with concomitant increases detected in the transcript levels of key steroidogenic enzymes (StAR, CYP11A, and 3β-HSD). Furthermore, treatment with kisspeptin increased the phosphorylation of Erk1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase in cultured luteal cells.


The kisspeptin/GPR54 signaling system could stimulate progesterone secretion in rat luteal cells via the Erk1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway, suggesting an important role for the function of the corpus luteum.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.