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Adipokines: New Emerging Roles in Fertility and Reproduction

Tersigni, Chiara MD*; Di Nicuolo, Fiorella PhD; D'Ippolito, Silvia MD*; Veglia, Manuela MD*; Castellucci, Mario MD, PhD; Di Simone, Nicoletta MD, PhD§

Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: January 2011 - Volume 66 - Issue 1 - p 47-63
doi: 10.1097/OGX.0b013e318217b0a4

Adipose tissue is a specialized endocrine and paracrine organ producing specific factors called adipokines. It is well known that adipokines balance is fundamental to prevent obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular diseases. During the last years, new roles of adipokines have been emerging in the field of fertility and reproduction. Although the literature is still quite controversial, this review serves to resume current knowledge on this topic. Alterations in adipokine levels or in their mechanism of action are associated with fertility impairment and pregnancy diseases, as well as with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular diseases. Normal levels of adipokines are fundamental to maintain integrity of hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis, regular ovulatory processes, successful embryo implantation, and physiologic pregnancy. More efforts are needed to understand the mechanisms and to the extent to which adipokine changes are involved in the impairment of fertility and pregnancy outcome, to find possible medical treatments.

Target Audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians

Learning Objectives: After completion of this educational activity, the obstetrician/gynecologist should be better able to demonstrate current knowledge in the research field of adipokines in fertility and reproduction; evaluate the central role of metabolism balance in good pregnancy outcome; and apply new perspectives of studies.

*Specialty Trainee, †Biologist, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy; ‡Professor, Department of Molecular Pathology and Innovative Therapies, Section of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy; §Associated Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy

Chief Editor's Note: This article is part of a series of continuing education activities in this Journal through which a total of 36 AMA/PRA Category 1 Credits™ can be earned in 2011. Instructions for how CME credits can be earned appear on the last page of the Table of Contents.

The authors, faculty and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial organizations pertaining to this educational activity.

Correspondence requests to: N. Di Simone, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Catholic University School of Medicine, Largo Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.