Leptin action on reproductive functions is well established. Mice deficient (ob/ob) or resistant (db/db) to leptin are infertile, and leptin administration to ob/ob mice, but not weight loss alone, restores their fertility. Studies conducted in obese children deficient in leptin have supported the importance of leptin to fertility. Following leptin treatment, a gradual increase in gonadotropins and estradiol levels, enlargement of the gonads and pubertal development were observed. Leptin also blunts the fasting-induced suppression of LH secretion and fertility. In anorectic females, and those with hypothalamic amenorrhea resulting from a period of increased weight lost, leptin treatment increased pulse frequency and mean levels of LH, ovarian volume, number of dominant follicles and estradiol levels. Leptin receptors (LepR) are expressed in brain, pituitary gland and gonads. Expression of LepR in the brain of db/db mice or mice otherwise null for LepRs restores fertility completely in males and partially in females, suggesting that the brain plays a major role. We have found that re-expression of LepR selectively in the ventral premammillary nucleus (PMV) induce puberty, sexual maturation and improve fertility. It has been clearly demonstrated that the long isoform of LepRs mediates cell signaling via the JAK family of tyrosine kinases and subsequent phosphorylation of STAT3. Deletion of LepR-mediated STAT3 signaling (LRbS1138 s/s) recapitulates the db/db metabolic phenotype, producing hyperphagic obesity and diabetes. Notably however, whereas db/db mice are infertile, LRbS1138 s/s mice are fertile, suggesting that the effects of leptin to regulate reproduction are exerted by JAK/STAT3-independent signaling pathways. Recently, special attention has focused on the role of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathways as mediator of leptin effects in hypothalamic neurons Therefore, we hypothesize that PI3K signaling in the PMV is required for the leptin effect on puberty and coordinated reproductive control. The studies offered in this application are designed to directly test components of this model.

Public Health Relevance

The experiments proposed in this study were designed to investigate the role played by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathways mediating leptin action on reproduction. These studies were proposed to better understand the role of the adipocyte-derived hormone leptin in reproductive control. Our main objective is to add knowledge on how the brain integrates nutritional cues to regulate many parameters of the female reproductive physiology. In humans, states of negative energy balance as in anorexia, cachexia, and excessive exercise can all decrease gonadotropins secretion resulting in abnormal cyclicity and infertility. Obesity and diabetes can also negatively affect fertility. Thus, it is hoped that our studies may open new fronts for the understanding and for further treatment of reproductive deficits caused by metabolic dysfunctions.

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
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Integrative and Clinical Endocrinology and Reproduction Study Section (ICER)
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Lamar, Charisee A
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Medicine
Ann Arbor
United States
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