U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Biology of Reproduction, 2021, 105(4), 1056–1067



This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US.


Mechanisms in the brain controlling secretion of gonadotropin hormones in pigs, particularly luteinizing hormone (LH), are poorly understood. Kisspeptin is a potent LH stimulant that is essential for fertility in many species, including pigs. Neurokinin B (NKB) acting through neurokinin 3 receptor (NK3R) is involved in kisspeptin-stimulated LH release, but organization of NKB and NK3R within the porcine hypothalamus is unknown. Hypothalamic tissue from ovariectomized (OVX) gilts was used to determine the distribution of immunoreactive kisspeptin, NKB, and NK3R cells in the arcuate nucleus (ARC). Almost all kisspeptin neurons coexpressed NKB in the porcine ARC. Immunostaining for NK3R was distributed throughout the preoptic area (POA) and in several hypothalamic areas including the periventricular and retrochiasmatic areas but was not detected within the ARC. There was no colocalization of NK3R with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), but NK3R-positive fibers in the POA were in close apposition to GnRH neurons. Treating OVX gilts with the progestin altrenogest decreased LH pulse frequency and reduced mean circulating concentrations of LH compared with OVX control gilts (P < 0.01), but the number of kisspeptin and NKB cells in the ARC did not differ between treatments. The neuroanatomical arrangement of kisspeptin, NKB, and NK3R within the porcine hypothalamus confirms they are positioned to stimulate GnRH and LH secretion in gilts, though differences with other species exist. Altrenogest suppression of LH secretion in the OVX gilt does not appear to involve decreased peptide expression of kisspeptin or NKB.