The French National Centre for Scientific Research

Circadian control of reproduction in female mammals

Project leaders : Thibault Bahougne, Nathalie Jeandidier, Valérie Simonneaux

In female mammals, reproductive activity has ovarian cycles whose regularity depends on a functional circadian system. Indeed, the preovulatory peak of LH, which triggers ovulation, depends on circulating concentration of elevated estradiol, which attests to the maturity of the follicles, but also a circadian signal that ensures that ovulation occurs in beginning of active phase.

Studies have shown that disruption of the circadian system, including lesion of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), seat of the main circadian clock, impairs ovarian cycles and female fertility. In addition, it has been shown that SCN neurons project to hypothalamic neurons controlling the reproductive axis, including kisspeptin, RFRP and GnRH neurons. In this context the objectives of our team are:

  • to analyze the mechanisms that regulate the daily activity of kisspeptin and RFRP neurons and to understand how these neurons are involved in the occurrence of the preovulatory LH peak at the interface rest / activity phases;
  • to investigate the effects of circadian disturbances (single phase shift, chronic shifts) on the whole hypothalamic-hypophysio-gonadic axis and the fertility of female mice, but also in women working in shift work conditions.


Valérie Simonneaux
(Senior researcher)
Thibault Bahougne
(university hospital practitioner)
Béatrice Bothorel
Nathalie Jeandider
(University professor, hospital practitioner)
Marine Simonneaux


  • Perrine Inquimbert (INCI, Strasbourg)
  • Kalsbeek Andries (Université d’Amsterdam, Pays-Bas)
  • Jeandidier Nathalie (Hôpital universitaire, Service d’endocrinologie et métabolisme, Strasbourg)

Selected publications

Bahougne T, Kretz M, Angelopoulou E, Jeandidier N, Simonneaux V. Impact of Circadian Disruption on Female Mice Reproductive Function. Endocrinology (2020) 161(4):bqaa028

Bahougne T, Jeandidier N, Simonneaux V (2019) Reproductive senescence in C57BL/6J female mice. Geroscience: 42:323–331

Henningsen JB, Ancel C, Mikkelsen JD, Gauer F, Simonneaux V (2017) Roles of RFRP-3 in the daily and seasonal regulation of reproductive activity in female Syrian hamsters. Endocrinology, 158:652-663

Chassard D, Bur I, Poirel VJ, Mendoza J, Simonneaux V (2015) Evidence for a Putative Circadian Kiss-Clock in the Hypothalamic AVPV in Female Mice. Endocrinology, 156: 2999-3011

Simonneaux V (2018) A Kiss to drive rhythms in reproduction. Eur J Neurosci doi: 10.1111/ejn.14287

Angelopoulou E, Quignon C, Kriegsfeld LJ, Simonneaux V (2019) Functional implications of RFRP-3 in the central control of daily and seasonal rhythms in reproduction Front Endocrinology 10:183

Bahougne T and Simonneaux V (2015) A multi-oscillatory circadian system times female reproduction. Frontiers in Endocrinology 6:157


The French National Centre for Scientific Research