, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 195–206 | Cite as

Downregulation of leptin receptor and kisspeptin/GPR54 in the murine hypothalamus contributes to male hypogonadism caused by high-fat diet-induced obesity

  • Lingling Zhai
  • Jian Zhao
  • Yiming Zhu
  • Qiannan Liu
  • Wenhua Niu
  • Chengyin Liu
  • Yi Wang
Original Article



Obesity may lead to male hypogonadism, the underlying mechanism of which remains unclear. In the present study, we established a murine model of male hypogonadism caused by high-fat diet-induced obesity to verify the following hypotheses: 1) an increased leptin level may be related to decreased secretion of GnRH in obese males, and 2) repression of kisspeptin/GPR54 in the hypothalamus, which is associated with increased leptin levels, may account for the decreased secretion of GnRH and be involved in secondary hypogonadism (SH) in obese males.


Male mice were fed high-fat diet for 19 weeks and divided by body weight gain into diet-induced obesity (DIO) and diet-induced obesity resistant (DIO-R) group. The effect of obesity on the reproductive organs in male mice was observed by measuring sperm count and spermatozoid motility, relative to testis and epididymis weight, testosterone levels, and pathologic changes. Leptin, testosterone, estrogen, and LH in serum were detected by ELISA method. Leptin receptor (Ob-R), Kiss1, GPR54, and GnRH mRNA were measured by real-time PCR in the hypothalamus. Expression of kisspeptin and Ob-R protein was determined by Western blotting. Expression of GnRH and GPR54 protein was determined by immunohistochemical analysis.


We found that diet-induced obesity decreased spermatozoid motility, testis and epididymis relative coefficients, and plasma testosterone and luteinizing hormone levels. An increased number and volume of lipid droplets in Leydig cells were observed in the DIO group compared to the control group. Significantly, higher serum leptin levels were found in the DIO and DIO-R groups. The DIO and DIO-R groups showed significant downregulation of the GnRH, Kiss1, GPR54, and Ob-R genes. We also found decreased levels of GnRH, kisspeptin, GPR54, and Ob-R protein in the DIO and DIO-R groups.


These lines of evidence suggest that downregulation of Ob-R and kisspeptin/GPR54 in the murine hypothalamus may contribute to male hypogonadism caused by high-fat diet-induced obesity.


High-fat diet Obesity Male hypogonadism Leptin resistance 



This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no: 81671515, 30800920), the Foundation of Liaoning Provincial Department of Education (grant no: LK201624), and the Natural Science Foundation of Liaoning province (grant no: 201602710).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All animal experiments were approved by the Animal Ethics and Caring Committee of China Medical University. All experimental procedures were conducted in accordance with the Institutional Guidelines for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of China Medical University and the National Institutes of Health Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (publication no. 85-23, revised 1985).

Supplementary material

12020_2018_1646_MOESM1_ESM.docx (34 kb)
Supplementary Figure


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lingling Zhai
    • 1
  • Jian Zhao
    • 2
  • Yiming Zhu
    • 3
  • Qiannan Liu
    • 1
  • Wenhua Niu
    • 1
  • Chengyin Liu
    • 1
  • Yi Wang
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Maternal and Child Health, School of Public HealthChina Medical UniversityShenyangChina
  2. 2.Department of PharmacologyShenyang Pharmaceutical UniversityShenyangChina
  3. 3.Seven-Year-program Clinical Medicine Students (100K71B)China Medical UniversityShenyangChina
  4. 4.Environment and Non-communicable Disease Research Center, School of Public HealthChina Medical UniversityShenyangChina

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