Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Puberty Begins with a 'KiSS'

KiSS-1 Gene Switches on Hormonal Cascade of Puberty
WebMD Health News

The hormonal surge of puberty may begin with a kiss in more ways than one.

A new study shows that a molecule produced by the aptly named gene KiSS-1 may trigger the hormonal chain of events that primes adolescent boys and girls for their reproductive years.

The findings may help explain how this hormonal system, which is active at birth, becomes dormant during early childhood and then re-emerges with a vengeance for the beginning of adolescence.

"Puberty is critical to human development. And while there is a fairly good understanding of how the endocrine system regulates the hormones involved, just how and when the brain activates this process has been a great mystery," says researcher Tony Plant, PhD, director of the Center for Research in Reproductive Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in a news release.

Plant says a better understanding of the biological and brain processes involved in the onset of puberty may eventually help prevent early puberty or treat delayed puberty in some children.

KiSS Triggers Puberty

In the study, which appears in the Feb. 8 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers looked at the role of KiSS-1 in the reproductive system of monkeys, whose reproductive system closely resembles humans'.

Previous studies have suggested that a gene called GPR54 is defective in children with a disorder that delays the start of puberty. The start of puberty is marked by the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which stimulates the sex organs (the ovaries or testes) to make the sex hormones.

Based on these findings, researchers looked at the ability of KiSS-1 to turn on GPR54 and stimulate the release of GnRH in adolescent monkeys.

They found that injections of the molecule produced by KiSS-1 triggered a robust release of GnRH in the monkeys.

"We now have very good evidence that the GPR54 gene and its switch, the kisspeptin protein molecule produced by KiSS-1, are key to the initiation of puberty, when GnRH is released," says Plant. "However, it's unlikely that they act alone. Other signaling systems, some of which have probably yet to be identified in humans, help control GnRH release in primates."

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration