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​Kauffman Lab Research Interests
Kiss Double Label

Kisspeptin signaling is essential for proper puberty onset and adult reproductive function in both humans and other mammalian species. Kisspeptin produced by Kiss1 neurons in the hypothalamus potently stimulates GnRH neurons via the kisspeptin receptor Kiss1R, thereby activating the reproductive endocrine axis.  We study various aspects of Kiss1 neuron regulation and the effects of kisspeptin and other brain neuropeptides/neurotransmitters on GnRH secretion in adult animals.
The hormonal and neural mechanism(s) timing and controlling puberty are unknown. Recent evidence suggests that kisspeptin signaling in the brain is an essential component of the pubertal mechanism:  in the absence of kisspeptin signaling, animals and humans do not progress through puberty and Kiss1 levels in the brain increase at puberty.  We are currently investigating the role of Kiss1 neurons, and related neural populations (Neurokin B, dynorphin, GABA, etc) in the pubertal maturation process.
Circadian Label
In many mammals, stress can negatively impact fertility. Stress can inhibit female's reproductive cycles and lower the incidence of ovulation, and can also lower reproductive hormone levels in both sexes. The mechanisms by which stress regulates reproductive status are not yet fully characertized. We are currently investigating the interaction of stress and hypothalamic brain systems (Rfrp-3, kisspeptin, NKB, etc.) to investigate how stress alters neurendocrine reproductive function in males and females.
Suxual Differentiation
Many aspects of the brain, physiology, and behavior are different between the sexes.  Sexual differentiation of the brain (and the processes it controls) occurs during critical developmental periods and manifests later in life.  Several aspects of the mammalian reproductive axis are sexually dimorphic, including the ability to generate a preovulatory “surge” of GnRH/LH, or the timing of puberty onset.  Given the critical role of kisspeptin in regulating the reproductive axis, we are currently studying sex differences within the Kiss1 and Kiss1R systems, and investigating the mechanism by which these sex differences are developmentally produced.

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