Leptin antagonizes the insulin-like growth factor-I augmentation of steroidogenesis in granulosa and theca cells of the human ovary

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Mar;84(3):1072-6. doi: 10.1210/jcem.84.3.5543.


There is increasing evidence that leptin is a physiological link between obesity and infertility. Although leptin receptors have been demonstrated in human ovaries, there is no information regarding the effects of leptin on cells from developing ovarian follicles. To test the direct effects of leptin on human ovarian cells, granulosa cells (GC) and theca cells were isolated from the ovaries of regularly cycling women. Serum was obtained at the time of surgery, and follicular fluid was aspirated from the follicles before isolation of the ovarian cells. Leptin concentrations were similar in follicular fluid and serum. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that the long, signaling form of the leptin receptor was expressed in both theca and GC. In cultured GC, leptin had no effect on estradiol production, alone or in the presence of FSH, but caused a concentration-related inhibition of the insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) augmentation of FSH-stimulated estradiol production. The effect of leptin was specific, because there was no effect on progesterone production. In cultured theca cells, leptin did not alter androstenedione production, alone or in the presence of LH. Leptin caused a concentration-related inhibition of the IGF-I augmentation of LH-stimulated androstenedione production. These data demonstrate that leptin can directly inhibit IGF-I action in ovarian theca and GC at concentrations commonly present in obese women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Androstenedione / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Androstenedione / biosynthesis
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Estradiol / biosynthesis
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / pharmacology
  • Follicular Fluid / chemistry
  • Granulosa Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / pharmacology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology*
  • Leptin
  • Luteinizing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Ovary / cytology
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteins / pharmacology
  • Proteins / physiology*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface*
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Steroids / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Steroids / biosynthesis
  • Theca Cells / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • LEPR protein, human
  • Leptin
  • Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Steroids
  • Androstenedione
  • Estradiol
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone