New research explains link between obesity and infertility

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center have discovered the mechanism responsible for the link between obesity and infertility.

A study published in the medical journal Cell Metabolism this month has suggested that infertility among obese people is the result of heightened insulin levels overwhelming receptors in the pituitary glands.

Following tests with mice, the scientists established that removing these insulin receptors can lead to the maintenance of normal hormone and fertility levels despite the effects of obesity.

This challenges the previously-held assumption that infertility is caused by insulin resistance and suggests that decreasing the sensitivity of the pituitary gland could be a treatment target for conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome.

Principal investigator Andrew Wolfe of Hopkins Children's said: "What we propose is a fundamentally new model showing that different tissues respond to obesity differently."

Obesity is a growing problem in the UK, with NHS figures last month showing that there has been a 785 per cent rise in weight-loss surgery in the last five years.

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