Energy homeostasis and reproduction require tight coordination, but the mechanisms underlying their interaction are not fully understood. Two sets of hypothalamic neurons, namely pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the arcuate nucleus and steroidogenic factor-1 (SF1) neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus, are emerging as critical nodes where metabolic and reproductive signals communicate. This view is supported by recent genetic studies showing that disruption of metabolic signals (e.g., leptin and insulin) or reproductive signals (e.g., estradiol) in these neurons leads to impaired regulation of both energy homeostasis and fertility. In this review, we will examine the potential mechanisms of neuronal communication between POMC, SF1, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons in the regulation of metabolism and reproduction.
Keywords: energy homeostasis; hypothalamus; reproduction.