Hypogonadism occurs commonly in men with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and severe obesity. Current evidence points to a decreased secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus and thereby decreased secretion of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland as a central feature of the pathophysiology in these men. Hyperglycaemia, inflammation, leptin and oestrogen-related feedback have been proposed to make aetiological contributions to the hypogonadotropic hypogonadism of T2DM. However, the neuroendocrine signals that link these factors with modulation of GnRH neurons have yet to be identified. Kisspeptins play a central role in the modulation of GnRH secretion and, thus, downstream regulation of gonadotropins and testosterone secretion in men. Inactivating mutations of the kisspeptin receptor have been shown to cause hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in man, whilst an activating mutation is associated with precocious puberty. Data from studies in experimental animals link kisspeptin expression with individual factors known to regulate GnRH secretion, including hyperglycaemia, inflammation, leptin and oestrogen. We therefore hypothesise that decreased endogenous kisspeptin secretion is the common central pathway that links metabolic and endocrine factors in the pathology of testosterone deficiency seen in men with obesity and T2DM. We propose that the kisspeptin system plays a central role in integrating a range of metabolic inputs, thus constituting the link between energy status with the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, and put forward potential clinical studies to test the hypothesis.
Copyright 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.