The hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis integrates internal and external cues via a balance of stimulatory and inhibitory neurochemical systems to time reproductive activity. The cumulative output of these positive and negative modulators drives secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a neuropeptide that causes pituitary gonadotropin synthesis and secretion. Ten years ago, Tsutsui and colleagues discovered a peptide in quail hypothalamus that is capable of inhibiting gonadotropin secretion in cultured quail pituitary cells. Later studies by a variety of researchers examined the presence and functional role for the mammalian ortholog of GnIH. To date, GnIH exhibits a similar distribution and functional role in all mammals investigated, including humans. This overview summarizes the role of GnIH in modulation of mammalian reproductive physiology and suggests avenues for further study by those interested in the neuroendocrine control of reproductive physiology and sexual behavior.
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