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17-04-2011 | Gynaecology | Article

Leptin may restore fertility to women with hypothalamic amenorrhea


Free abstract

MedWire News: Treatment with the hormone leptin could restore fertility in women with hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) brought on by chronic energy deficiency, say researchers.

The team found that leptin replacement brought back the menses of almost two-thirds of women whose menstrual periods had ceased.

"Our findings now prove beyond any doubt that leptin is the missing link in women with significantly diminished body fat, and that this, in turn, results in numerous hormonal abnormalities," said Christos Mantzoros, from Harvard Medicine School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

HA can occur in women who undertake strenuous exercise, including athletes and dancers, as well as in those with conditions involving food deprivation, such as anorexia nervosa.

Mantzoros and colleagues randomly assigned 20 women with HA to receive either a leptin replacement for 36 weeks (n = 11) or placebo (n = 9).

Seven of the 11 participants receiving leptin developed menstruation during the study, five within the first 12 weeks of treatment, compared with just two of the nine women receiving placebo.

Four of the menstruating women in the leptin group were confirmed to have ovulatory menses, one of whom went on to become pregnant by week 24 of leptin.

"Helping to resolve fertility problems in these groups of women [with HA] is a critically important step," concluded Mantzoros.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Sarah Guy