The hormonal changes which are triggered by obesity can “program” the reproductive systems of the female offspring of obese women and lead to infertility, report endocrinologists in the journal Endocrinology.
Hormones involved in energy balance and metabolism have been shown to regulate reproductive function in animals and humans. Levels of one of these hormones – ghrelin – are low in obese women, so study author Hugh Taylor decided to examine the effect of ghrelin deficiency on the developmental programming of female fertility.
Taylor and his Yale co-researchers observed that female mice born of mice with ghrelin deficiency had diminished fertility and produced smaller litters than mice born of mice with normal ghrelin levels. Additionally, mice exposed to ghrelin deficiency in-utero demonstrated alterations in uterine gene expression which lead to impaired embryo implantation and consequently low fertility.