The role of Leptin in the development of the corpus luteum

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Leptin: Production, Regulation and Functions


The mechanistic events leading to infertility issues in women have been investigated for over 50 years and although progress has been made in identifying the potential causes, many cases of infertility remain idiopathic. This becomes problematic when attempting to provide treatments for women striving to conceive a child. One cause of infertility is attributed to a unique component of ovarian tissue that develops following the ovulation of an ovum, the corpus luteum (CL). The CL is a highly vascular tissue that develops at a rate similar to an aggressive tumor and is essential for the maintenance of pregnancy through the synthesis and secretion of the steroid hormone, progesterone. Defects or abnormalities in a CL are believed to account for approximately 65% of recurrent miscarriages. Many of the defects are attributed, in part, to abnormal vascularization (angiogenesis) of the CL, which occurs primarily during the development stage of the luteal lifespan. Leptin is an adipokine hormone that is synthesized and secreted by the CL and exhibits angiogenic promoting properties. Induced luteal leptin deficiency throughout development and maturation of a CL altered the vascular landscape by increasing (P<0.05) the number of large diameter vessels. Furthermore, the leptin deficient CL had a higher occurrence of abnormal, underdeveloped morphology (P<0.05) and a higher (P<0.05) ratio of large luteal cells to small luteal cells. Leptin replacement therapy following an induced leptin deficiency during the development stage of the CL appeared to have accelerated tissue development, increasing overall tissue mass (P<0.05) and forming a structure that resembled a mature CL. This suggests that luteal leptin deficiency increased tissue sensitivity promoting compensatory development with hormone replacement. Collectively, the evidence supports the supposition that leptin is involved in the normal architecture of a developing CL including the vascular and cellular landscape of the tissue.

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