Liver X Receptors: A Possible Link between Lipid Disorders and Female Infertility

Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jul 25;19(8):2177. doi: 10.3390/ijms19082177.


A close relationship exists between cholesterol and female reproductive physiology. Indeed, cholesterol is crucial for steroid synthesis by ovary and placenta, and primordial for cell structure during folliculogenesis. Furthermore, oxysterols, cholesterol-derived ligands, play a potential role in oocyte maturation. Anomalies of cholesterol metabolism are frequently linked to infertility. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms. In parallel, increasing evidence describing the biological roles of liver X receptors (LXRs) in the regulation of steroid synthesis and inflammation, two processes necessary for follicle maturation and ovulation. Both of the isoforms of LXRs and their bona fide ligands are present in the ovary. LXR-deficient mice develop late sterility due to abnormal oocyte maturation and increased oocyte atresia. These mice also have an ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome in response to gonadotropin stimulation. Hence, further studies are necessary to explore their specific roles in oocyte, granulosa, and theca cells. LXRs also modulate estrogen signaling and this could explain the putative protective role of the LXRs in breast cancer growth. Altogether, clinical studies would be important for determining the physiological relevance of LXRs in reproductive disorders in women.

Keywords: breast cancer; cholesterol; female reproduction; liver X receptors; ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / complications
  • Infertility, Female / genetics
  • Infertility, Female / metabolism*
  • Liver X Receptors / genetics
  • Liver X Receptors / physiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Metabolic Syndrome / genetics
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome / genetics
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome / metabolism
  • Ovary / physiology
  • Placenta / physiology
  • Pregnancy


  • Estrogens
  • Liver X Receptors
  • Cholesterol