Melanin concentrating hormone (MCH): A novel neural pathway for regulation of GnRH neurons

Patricia S. Williamson-Hughes, Kevin L. Grove, M. Susan Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The link between the state of energy balance and reproductive function is well known. Thus, signals denoting negative energy balance and the accompanying hyperphagic drive are likely to be factors in the suppression of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) activity. We have previously found that appetite-regulating systems, such as neuropeptide Y (NPY) in the arcuate nucleus (ARH) and orexin in the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), send fiber projections that come in close apposition with GnRH neurons. Furthermore, the appropriate receptors, NPY Y5 and OR-1, respectively, are coexpressed on GnRH neurons, providing neuroanatomical evidence for a direct link between the NPY and orexin systems and GnRH neurons. Therefore, these orexigenic neuropeptide systems are potential candidates that convey information about energy balance to GnRH neurons. The current studies focused on melanin concentrating hormone (MCH), another orexigenic neuropeptide system located in the LHA that is sensitive to energy balance. The results showed that MCH fiber projections came in close apposition with approximately 85-90% of GnRH cell bodies throughout the preoptic area and anterior hypothalamic area in the rat. In addition, the MCH receptor (MCHR1) was coexpressed on about 50-55% of GnRH neurons. These findings present evidence for a possible direct neuroanatomical pathway by which MCH may play a role in the regulation of GnRH neuronal function. Thus, MCH is another potential signal that may serve to integrate energy balance and reproductive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 18 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Confocal microscopy
  • GnRH
  • Immunofluorescence
  • MCH
  • MCHR1
  • Neuroanatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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