Leader: Erik Hrabovszky
Molecular, cellular and system biology research at the Laboratory of Reproductive Neurobiology aims to provide a deeper understanding of the central regulatory mechanisms of human reproduction. Hypothalamic secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) builds up during pubertal development. Secretory pulses of GnRH at every 30-90 minutes stimulate luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormone (LH and FSH) production in the anterior pituitary gland. These troph hormones, in turn, initiate and later maintain functions of the gonads (testes and ovaries). This laboratory combines anatomical, electrophysiological and molecular approaches to study i) the neuronal and hormonal control of pulsatile GnRH/LH secretion, ii) the mechanisms of the mid-cycle GnRH/LH surge which triggers ovulation in females, iii) the central effects of gonadal steroid hormones on neuroendocrine systems and on wider aspects of general neuronal functioning and iv) the molecular and cellular processes underlying reproductive senescence.
Techniques applied for single-cell research include traditional neuroanatomical approaches, slice electrophysiology and high-throughput and high-resolution molecular biology methods. In recent years, the laboratory preferentially uses human hypothalamic tissue samples in anatomical (light, confocal and electron microscopic) and molecular (microarray, RNA-Seq, RT-qPCR) research. In view of the limited translational value of rodent models in reproductive biology, the Human Hypothalamus Research Unit became the most dynamically developing research unit with a broad focus on the role of the hypothalamus in neuroendocrine, metabolic and autonomic regulation. Studies of the Laboratory of Reproductive Neurobiology may lead to a better understanding of various human pathologies, such as different forms of central infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), ovarian cycle disturbances due to insufficient caloric intake (e.g. anorexia nervosa) or stress, abnormal pubertal development (e.g. precocious puberty, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism), and central nervous system dysfunctions caused by postmenopausal estrogen deficiency.
Research of the laboratory is supported by the National Science Foundation of Hungary (K128317 and PD125393) and the Hungarian Brain Research Program (2017-1.2.1-NKP-2017-00002).