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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2010 Aug 5;324(1-2):87-94. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2009.12.018. Epub 2009 Dec 21.

Metabolic control of puberty onset: new players, new mechanisms.

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Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain.


Puberty, as the end-point of a complex series of maturational events affecting the components of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, is gated by the state of body energy reserves and sensitive to different metabolic cues; conditions of severe metabolic stress and energy unbalance (from anorexia to morbid obesity) being commonly linked to perturbation of the onset of puberty. In the last two decades, the neuroendocrine mechanisms responsible for the tight coupling between energy homeostasis and puberty onset have begun to be deciphered. These seemingly involve a plethora of metabolic hormones and neuropeptides, which impinge and integrate (mostly) at the hypothalamic centers governing reproduction. Yet, characterization of the mechanisms of action of such regulators (and even their nature and physiological relevance) still remains incomplete. In this review, we will summarize some recent developments in our knowledge of the effects and mechanisms of action of two key metabolic hormones, leptin and ghrelin, in the control of puberty onset. In addition, the roles of the hypothalamic Kiss1 system in the metabolic gating of puberty will be reviewed, with special attention to its regulation by leptin and the recent identification of the putative roles of Crtc1 and mTOR signaling as molecular conduits for the metabolic control of Kiss1 expression. Elucidation of these novel players and regulatory mechanisms will help for a better understanding of the determinants of the timing of puberty, and its eventual alterations in adverse metabolic conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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