Examining High Salt Diet, Puberty, and Interactions of Kisspeptin, Neurokinin B, and the Vasopressin Receptor

Fallon, Brooke
Pitynski, Dori
Puberty has been occurring in females earlier than has ever been reported. This research is focused on studying the mechanism behind this occurrence and the effects of a high salt diet on the reproductive axis and early onset puberty. We are examining the interactions of the neurotransmitters kisspeptin, neurokinin B (NKB) and one of its receptors, NK3R in the role of pubertal timing. Both have been shown to play crucial roles in reproduction and salt regulation. We have also studied vasopressin, a hormone that is released following high salt consumption in the arcuate nucleus. We have observed possible co-localization of kisspeptin and vasopressin neurons in the arcuate nucleus of a rat brain, suggesting that this may be an area of integration between high salt and increased kisspeptin activity, leading to earlier puberty. We have also looked at the medial amygdala, an area that is known to be involved in salt appetite and that has projections to gonadotropic releasing hormone neurons (GnRH) involved in puberty. It is known that salt can activate NKB in other brain areas. Brain sections have been evaluated using immunohistochemistry. We are currently running a time point experiment in which rats are fed one of four diets: control, 2% salt, 4% salt, or 8% salt. Their brains are analyzed using qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) for NKB/NK3R at one of three time points, post-natal day 31, 35, or 39. This will allow for the observation of NKB activity around the onset of puberty in animals with varying salt diets.
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