Endocrinology Journal Article

The Importance of Leptin to Reproduction

February 01, 2021
 

Gwen V Childs, Angela K Odle, Melanie C MacNicol, Angus M MacNicol
Endocrinology, Volume 162, Issue 2, February 2021, bqaa204
https://doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqaa204

Abstract

A healthy nutritional state is required for all aspects of reproduction and is signaled by the adipokine leptin. Leptin acts in a relatively narrow concentration range: too much or too little will compromise fertility. The leptin signal timing is important to prepubertal development in both sexes. In the brain, leptin acts on ventral premammillary neurons which signal kisspeptin (Kiss1) neurons to stimulate gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons. Suppression of Kiss1 neurons occurs when agouti-related peptide neurons are activated by reduced leptin, because leptin normally suppresses these orexigenic neurons. In the pituitary, leptin stimulates production of GnRH receptors (GnRHRs) and follicle-stimulating hormone at midcycle, by activating pathways that derepress actions of the messenger ribonucleic acid translational regulatory protein Musashi. In females, rising estrogen stimulates a rise in serum leptin, which peaks at midcycle, synchronizing with nocturnal luteinizing hormone pulses. The normal range of serum leptin levels (10–20 ng/mL) along with gonadotropins and growth factors promote ovarian granulosa and theca cell functions and oocyte maturation. In males, the prepubertal rise in leptin promotes testicular development. However, a decline in leptin levels in prepubertal boys reflects inhibition of leptin secretion by rising androgens. In adult males, leptin levels are 10% to 50% of those in females, and high leptin inhibits testicular function. The obesity epidemic has elucidated leptin resistance pathways, with too much leptin in either sex leading to infertility. Under conditions of balanced nutrition, however, the secretion of leptin is timed and regulated within a narrow level range that optimizes its trophic effects.

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