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Otago Medical School staff profiles

Dr Ilona Kokay

PositionSenior Research Fellow
DepartmentDepartment of Anatomy
QualificationsBSc (Hons) PhD (Otago)
Research summaryNeuroendocrinology

Research

Neuroendocrine adaptations during pregnancy and lactation; central leptin and insulin signalling.

Research Interests
Pregnancy and lactation are characterised by a number of physiological and behavioural adaptations which are critically important to ensure a successful pregnancy and for the health and well-being of the infant. In the last decade, evidence has accumulated that the hormone prolactin has critical functions in the brain. The goal is to elucidate the role of this hormone in co-ordinating and regulating a wide range of neuroendocrine and behavioural changes during pregnancy and lactation.

Interleukin-18 is a novel member of the interleukin-1 cytokine family. The levels of interleukin-18 are elevated in obesity and diabetes and are influenced by diet and lifestyle. We are examining the role of this pro-inflammatory marker in the development of obesity and diabetes.

Publications

Augustine, R. A., Ladyman, S. R., Bouwer, G. T., Alyousif, Y., Sapsford, T. J., Scott, V., Kokay, I. C., Grattan, D. R., & Brown, C. H. (2017). Prolactin regulation of oxytocin neurone activity in pregnancy and lactation. Journal of Physiology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1113/jp273712

Brown, R. S. E., Kokay, I. C., Phillipps, H. R., Yip, S. H., Gustafson, P., Wyatt, A., Larsen, C. M., Knowles, P., Ladyman, S. R., LeTissier, P., & Grattan, D. R. (2016). Conditional deletion of the prolactin receptor reveals functional subpopulations of dopamine neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(35), 9173-9185. doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.1471-16.2016

Araujo-Lopes, R., Crampton, J. R., Aquino, N. S. S., Miranda, R. M., Kokay, I. C., Reis, A. M., … Grattan, D. R., & Szawka, R. E. (2014). Prolactin regulates kisspeptin neurons in the arcuate nucleus to suppress LH secretion in female rats. Endocrinology, 155(3), 1010-1020. doi: 10.1210/en.2013-1889

Sapsford, T. J., Kokay, I. C., Östberg, L., Bridges, R. S., & Grattan, D. R. (2012). Differential sensitivity of specific neuronal populations of the rat hypothalamus to prolactin action. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 520(5), 1062-1077. doi: 10.1002/cne.22775

Phillipps, H. R., Kokay, I. C., Grattan, D. R., & Hurst, P. R. (2011). X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein and active caspase-3 expression patterns in antral follicles in the sheep ovary. Reproduction, 142, 855-867. doi: 10.1530/rep-11-0177

Journal - Research Article

Augustine, R. A., Ladyman, S. R., Bouwer, G. T., Alyousif, Y., Sapsford, T. J., Scott, V., Kokay, I. C., Grattan, D. R., & Brown, C. H. (2017). Prolactin regulation of oxytocin neurone activity in pregnancy and lactation. Journal of Physiology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1113/jp273712

Brown, R. S. E., Kokay, I. C., Phillipps, H. R., Yip, S. H., Gustafson, P., Wyatt, A., Larsen, C. M., Knowles, P., Ladyman, S. R., LeTissier, P., & Grattan, D. R. (2016). Conditional deletion of the prolactin receptor reveals functional subpopulations of dopamine neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(35), 9173-9185. doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.1471-16.2016

Araujo-Lopes, R., Crampton, J. R., Aquino, N. S. S., Miranda, R. M., Kokay, I. C., Reis, A. M., … Grattan, D. R., & Szawka, R. E. (2014). Prolactin regulates kisspeptin neurons in the arcuate nucleus to suppress LH secretion in female rats. Endocrinology, 155(3), 1010-1020. doi: 10.1210/en.2013-1889

Sapsford, T. J., Kokay, I. C., Östberg, L., Bridges, R. S., & Grattan, D. R. (2012). Differential sensitivity of specific neuronal populations of the rat hypothalamus to prolactin action. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 520(5), 1062-1077. doi: 10.1002/cne.22775

Phillipps, H. R., Kokay, I. C., Grattan, D. R., & Hurst, P. R. (2011). X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein and active caspase-3 expression patterns in antral follicles in the sheep ovary. Reproduction, 142, 855-867. doi: 10.1530/rep-11-0177

Kokay, I. C., Petersen, S. L., & Grattan, D. R. (2011). Identification of prolactin-sensitive GABA and kisspeptin neurons in regions of the rat hypothalamus involved in the control of fertility. Endocrinology, 152(2), 526-535. doi: 10.1210/en.2010-0668

Brown, R. S. E., Kokay, I. C., Herbison, A. E., & Grattan, D. R. (2010). Distribution of prolactin-responsive neurons in the mouse forebrain. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 518(1), 92-102. doi: 10.1002/cne.22208

Ladyman, S. R., Tups, A., Augustine, R. A., Swahn-Azavedo, A., Kokay, I. C., & Grattan, D. R. (2009). Loss of hypothalamic response to leptin during pregnancy associated with development of melanocortin resistance. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 21(5), 449-456. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2009.01862.x

Larsen, C. M., Kokay, I. C., & Grattan, D. R. (2008). Male pheromones initiate prolactin-induced neurogenesis and advance maternal behavior in female mice. Hormones & Behavior, 53(4), 509-517. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2007.11.020

Grattan, D. R., Steyn, F. J., Kokay, I. C., Anderson, G. M., & Bunn, S. J. (2008). Pregnancy-induced adaptation in the neuroendocrine control of prolactin secretion. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 20(4), 497-507. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01661.x

Grattan, D. R., & Kokay, I. C. (2008). Prolactin: A pleiotropic neuroendocrine hormone. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 20(6), 752-763. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01736.x

Carrington, E., Kokay, I. C., Duthie, J., Lewis, R., & Mercer, A. R. (2007). Manipulating the light/dark cycle: Effects on dopamine levels in optic lobes of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) brain. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 193(2), 167-180.

Josephs, T., Waugh, H., Kokay, I., Grattan, D., & Thompson, M. (2007). Fasting-induced adipose factor identified as a key adipokine that is up-regulated in white adipose tissue during pregnancy and lactation in the rat. Journal of Endocrinology, 194, 305-312.

Möderscheim, T. A. E., Gorba, T., Pathipati, P., Kokay, I. C., Grattan, D. R., Williams, C. E., & Scheepens, A. (2007). Prolactin is involved in glial responses following a focal injury to the juvenile rat brain. Neuroscience, 145, 963-973.

Kokay, I. C., Bull, P. M., Davis, R. L., Ludwig, M., & Grattan, D. R. (2006). Expression of the long form of the prolactin receptor in magnocellular oxytocin neurons is associated with specific prolactin regulation of oxytocin neurons. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative & Comparative Physiology, 290, R1216-R1225. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00730.2005

Kokay, I. C., & Grattan, D. R. (2005). Expression of mRNA for prolactin receptor (long form) in dopamine and pro-opiomelanocortin neurones in the arcuate nucleus of non-pregnant and lactating rats. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 17, 827-835.

Augustine, R. A., Kokay, I. C., Andrews, Z. B., Ladyman, S. R., & Grattan, D. R. (2003). Quantitation of prolactin receptor mRNA in the maternal rat brain during pregnancy and lactation. Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, 31, 221-232.

Anderson, S. T., Kokay, I. C., Lang, T., Grattan, D. R., & Curlewis, J. D. (2003). Quantification of prolactin-releasing peptide (PrRP) mRNA expression in specific brain regions of the rat during the oestrous cycle and in lactation. Brain Research, 973(1), 64-73. doi: 10.1016/S0006-8993(03)02543-5

Andrews, Z. B., Kokay, I. C., & Grattan, D. R. (2001). Dissociation of prolactin secretion from tuberoinfundibular dopamine activity in late pregnant rats. Endocrinology, 142(6), 2719-2724.

Grattan, D. R., Xu, J., McLachlan, M. J., Kokay, I. C., Bunn, S. J., Hovey, R. C., & Davey, H. W. (2001). Feedback regulation of PRL secretion is mediated by the transcription factor, signal transducer, and activator of transcription 5b. Endocrinology, 142(9), 3935-3940.

Grattan, D. R., Pi, X. J., Andrews, Z. B., Augustine, R. A., Kokay, I. C., Summerfield, M. R., Todd, B., & Bunn, S. J. (2001). Prolactin receptors in the brain during pregnancy and lactation: Implications for behaviour. Hormones & Behavior, 40, 115-124.

Purnell, M. T., Mitchell, C. J., Taylor, D. J., Kokay, I. C., & Mercer, A. R. (2000). The influence of endogenous dopamine levels on the density of [3H]SCH23390-binding sites in the brain of the honey bee, Apis mellifera L. Brain Research, 855, 206-216.

Kokay, I. C., Ebert, P. R., Kirchhof, B. S., & Mercer, A. R. (1999). Distribution of dopamine receptors and dopamine receptor homologs in the brain of the honeybee, Apis mellifera L. Microscopy Research & Technique, 44, 179-189.

Kokay, I. C., McEwan, J. C., & Mercer, A. R. (1998). Autoradiographic localisation of [3H]-SCH23390 and [3H]-spiperone binding sites in honeybee brain. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 394, 29-37.

Kokay, I. C., & Mercer, A. R. (1997). Age-related changes in dopamine receptor densities in the brain of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 181(4), 415-423.

Kokay, I. C., & Mercer, A. R. (1996). Characterisation of dopamine receptors in insect (Apis mellifera) brain. Brain Research, 706, 47-56.

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