Reproductive function during weight gain in anorexia nervosa. Leptin represents a metabolic gate to gonadotropin secretion
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The adipocyte hormone leptin plays an important part in the reproductive function and in energy homeostasis. Only single studies have addressed the relationship between leptin and the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG) in anorexia nervosa (AN). In the present study 18 female adolescents with AN were investigated during weight gain. Leptin, LH, FSH, fT3, BMI and body composition were measured in the 1st, 3rd, 7th and 11th week of inpatient treatment. 18 eumenorrheic age- and gender-matched controls were examined once during the early follicular phase of their menstrual cycle. Our results demonstrate a critical leptin level of 1.2 ng/ml for an increase of FSH and confirmed a leptin threshold level of 1.85 ng/ml for LH. It may be concluded that leptin represents a metabolic gate to gonadotropin secretion. Once this is exceeded other biological mechanisms seem to be important for the complete recovery of the reproductive function and the resumption of menses.
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