Connecting salt and puberty: the neurokinin B story

Fuller, Teresa
One hundred years ago, the average age for a female living in the US to achieve menarche was between 16 and 17 years old. Today, this figure is below 13 years old. One potential explanation for this trend is increased dietary salt consumption. The goal of our research is to explore the physiological link between excess salt consumption and pubertal timing in females. Neurokinin B (NKB) is a neuropeptide synthesized and released from neurons within the arcuate nucleus and is important for both puberty and salt regulation. For this reason, we hypothesize that a high salt diet increases expression of NKB in the arcuate nucleus, and this increase in NKB is partially responsible for changes in pubertal timing. In order to test this hypothesis, we preformed qPCR for NKB in the arcuate nucleus of Sprauge Dawley rats before, during and after puberty, who were fed a series of diets ranging in salt content from .3% to 8%. In this way we are able to test changes in NKB expression throughout puberty under normal and high salt conditions. We found no significant differences in NKB expression throughout puberty between our control and high salt animals. These results lead us to hypothesize that there may be a change in the sensitivity of these neurons to the actions of NKB in response to high salt conditions throughout puberty. To test this we will perform qPCR of the same animals and area, but we will aim to quantify the amount of NKB receptors.
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