Background: In vitro data have shown conflicting results in terms of the effect of leptin on granulosa cells steroidogenesis.
Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of low and high doses of leptin on basal and FSH-induced steroids secretion by human luteinized granulosa cells in culture.
Materials and methods: Granulosa cells were obtained from normal women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment and were cultured in serum-free conditions for 72 h. A one-way analysis of variance design was set to study the effect of leptin on basal and FSH-induced steroidogenesis.
Results: Leptin affected basal estradiol and progesterone secretion in a dose-related manner. In particular, leptin at low concentrations stimulated the secretion of estradiol (1 and 10 ng/ml) and progesterone (10 ng/ml), while at a high concentration (100 ng/ml) it suppressed the secretion of both steroids. A dose-related effect of leptin on FSH-induced steroidogenesis was not evident, since only the suppressive effect of the high concentration of leptin (100 ng/ml) reached statistical significance for both steroids.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate that leptin affects the secretion of steroids in luteinized granulosa cells in a dose-dependent manner. Although a physiological role for leptin is possible, it is suggested that this protein is a mediator of negative rather than positive influential interactions on ovarian function that may compromise fertility.