Stress and the Reproductive System

  • Li X
  • O'Byrne K
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Stressors of a diverse nature-including psychogenic, immunological, and nutritional imbalances-affect the central regulator of the reproductive system, the hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) pulse generator by reducing its operational frequency and thereby compromising reproductive function. Key neuropeptide systems, such as corticotropin release factor, noradrenaline, gamma-aminobutyric acid, and serotonin, mediate the inhibitory effects of stressors and operate through complex and stressor-specific neurocircuits to suppress the GnRH neural network. There is increasing evidence that these stress neuropeptides affect the kisspeptin signaling system to compromise both GnRH pulse and surge generation, which are critical for reproductive function. The impact of glucocorticoids on GnRH/luteinizing hormone secretion is more variable and requires rigorous experimentation to clarify its role in infertility.

Author-supplied keywords

  • CRF
  • Glucocorticoids
  • GnRH pulse generator
  • GnRH surge
  • HPA axis
  • HPG axis
  • Infertility
  • Kisspeptin
  • Stress

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  • Xiao Feng Li

  • Kevin T. O'Byrne

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