Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)

Maternal obesity and ovarian failure: is leptin the culprit?

Yashaswi Sharma; António Miguel Galvão

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At the time of its discovery and characterization in 1994, leptin was mostly considered a metabolic hormone able to regulate body weight and energy homeostasis. However, in recent years, a great deal of literature has revealed leptin’s pleiotropic nature, through its involvement in numerous physiological contexts including the regulation of the female reproductive tract and ovarian function. Obesity has been largely associated with infertility, and leptin signalling is known to be dysregulated in the ovaries of obese females. Hence, the disruption of ovarian leptin signalling was shown to contribute to the pathophysiology of ovarian failure in obese females, affecting transcriptional programmes in the gamete and somatic cells. This review attempts to uncover the underlying mechanisms contributing to female infertility associated with obesity, as well as to shed light on the role of leptin in the metabolic dysregulation within the follicle, the effects on the oocyte epigenome, and the potential long-term consequence to embryo programming.


maternal obesity, leptin, oocyte quality, epigenetics, ovarian leptin resistance


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