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Hormones (Athens). 2008 Oct-Dec;7(4):287-93.

Chronic stress, visceral obesity and gonadal dysfunction.

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Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes Unit, Evgenidion Hospital, Athens University Medical School, Athens, Greece.


Chronic stress represents a prolonged state of dyshomeostasis caused by intense and frequently imposed stressors. Obesity constitutes a chronic dysmetabolic state, leading progressively to a spectrum of metabolic complications, such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Alpha growing body of evidence supports the existence of significant interactions between stress and obesity, with chronic stress promoting weight gain, and consequently excessive fat accumulation especially visceral, all these factors contributing to the development of a chronic stressful state. Maintaining body homeostasis is a prerequisite for normal reproductive function, which is vital for the survival of the species and an important process of natural selection. Under chronic stress, reproductive function is suspended and disrupted due to central and peripheral actions of hormones, adipokines and pro-inflammatory cytokines that inhibit the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary gonadal (HPG) axis at various levels. Clinical and experimental data link both obesity and chronic stress to dysregulation of the gonadal axis, via independent and synergistic mechanisms, which may chronically lead to reproductive dysfunction and reduced fertility.

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