Protein Boosts Sex Hormones, Suggesting Infertility Therapy

Giving a special hormone to infertile women can dramatically increase their production of sex hormones, which may lead to a new infertility treatment for women with low sex hormone levels, a recent study demonstrated.      The work, which was led by Waljit Dhillo of the Department of Investigative Medicine at Imperial College London, was presented at a meeting of the Society for Endocrinology BES.

Kisspeptin is a hormone that is fundamental for reproductive function. It gets its name from its DNA template, the KISS-1 gene. Animals and people who don’t have the ability to secrete kisspeptin never go through puberty.
    
“Infertility is a devastating condition that affects millions of couples worldwide,” said Dhillo.

He and his fellow researchers had previously discovered that giving kisspeptin to already fertile women boosts their production of sex hormones. The most recent study expanded the investigational focus to women whose periods have been ended by a hormone imbalance.
    
In the study, 10 non-menstruating women were divided into two equal groups. One was injected with kisspeptin and the other with saline solution. After a while, blood samples were taken, and it was found that the kisspeptin group had experienced a 48-fold increase in luteinizing hormone (LH) and a 16-fold rise in follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) compared with the control group. LH and FSH are essential for ovulation and fertility.
    
The researchers said they are hopeful kisspeptin can be developed as a new therapy for female infertility.

“This research shows that kisspeptin offers huge promise as a treatment for infertility,” Dhillo said. “From our previous results, we know that kisspeptin can stimulate release of reproductive hormones in healthy women. We have now extended this research to show that kisspeptin treatment has the same effect in women with infertility.

“In fact, our current data show that kisspeptin causes a greater increase in luteinizing hormone production in non-menstruating women, than that in fertile women in the previous study. This is a very exciting result and suggests that kisspeptin treatment could restore reproductive function in women with low sex hormone levels.”


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