Endocrine Neurobiology

Group 21
Leader: Zsolt Liposits

The neuroendocrine research in our Group has been aimed at studying neuronal networks embedded in the basal forebrain that play key roles in the regulation of reproduction and the integration of homeostatic and environmental signals supporting this physiological process. The studies on the connection and function of neuronal networks utilize in vivo (rodents) and in vitro (cell lines, tissue slices) model systems and post-mortem human brain tissues and combine functional morphological (immunocytochemistry, electron microscopy, in situ hybridization) electrophysiological (patch clamp, optogenetics) and molecular biological (recombinant technologies, microarray, RT-qPCR technique) approaches.

An important achievement in this field was the first description of the reciprocal synaptic interaction of GnRH neurons with kisspeptin neurons, and the identification of novel afferents of the GnRH neuronal networks mediating circadian (vasopressin-kisspeptin) and metabolic (ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide 1, secretin) signals. These studies also address questions related to the role of hypothalamic and limbic centers of rodents and humans in the central regulation of feeding and run successfully in collaboration with leading European research groups already for a decade.

We study also the genomic and non-genomic effects of gonadal hormones which are produced under the control of the hypothalamo-hypophyseal system. These examinations are not constrained to the positive and negative feed-back effects operating within the close regulatory circuit but extend to the changes evoked in other brain regions including the frontal cortex and the hippocampus. A major aim of the research is to decipher the receptorial and molecular mechanisms of estrogen actions in the central nervous system, especially focusing on the retrograde signalization processes activated during the negative- and positive feedback, that enable the GnRH neurons to influence their own neuronal afferent inputs. The recent results of the group indicate that GnRH neurons affect differentially the GABAergic and glutamatergic afferents during the negative- and positive feedback by using the endogenous cannabinoid and nitric oxide systems.

The latest emerging research subfield of the group examines the potential connection points and the role of the basal forebrain cholinergic signaling in the regulation of reproduction. Our important observation has been that the basal forebrain cholinergic neurons – besides the well-known ascending reticular activating system, receive an ascending glycinergic afferentation from the brain stem, which has a potential role in the control of the arousal state and attention of the experimental animals during their sexual behavior.

Excerpt from the Guidebook of the Institute 2015.

Lab members:

Veronika CsillagPhD Student
Imre KallóPostdoctoral Scientist
Zsolt LipositsScientific Advisor, Group Leader, Head of Department
Mahendran VarmanHAS Young Research Fellow
Márta TurekSecretary
Csaba VastaghPostdoctoral Scientist