Ghrelin levels linked to fertility

Mice whose mothers had low levels of ghrelin are less fertile and produce smaller litters, Yale researchers reported in the May issue of Endocrinology. Such hormones as ghrelin, which are involved in energy balance, hunger regulation, and metabolism, have also been shown to regulate reproductive function in humans. Ghrelin levels are typically low in obese women.

The Yale team studied the effects of ghrelin deficiency on the developmental programming of fertility in female mice, noting that abnormal functioning of uterine tissue led to lowered rates of embryo implantation.

“While our study involved mice, we believe our findings have significant implications for women,” said lead author Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., HS ’92, FW ’98, professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences. “Our results suggest that low ghrelin levels could program the development of the uterus in the female children of obese women. These women may then be less fertile as adults.”

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Hugh Taylor

Anita O'Keeffe Young Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology