Correction of the sterility defect in homozygous obese female mice by treatment with the human recombinant leptin

Nat Genet. 1996 Mar;12(3):318-20. doi: 10.1038/ng0396-318.


The sterility of male and female homozygous ob/ob mice is a recognized feature of the ob mutation (1). Whereas ob/ob males can occasionally reproduce if maintained on a restricted diet, ob/ob females are always sterile (2). Thinning of the ob/ob females to normal weight by diet-restriction failed to correct their sterility. Early sexual development is normal in ob/ob females; however, ovulation never follows and the mice remain prepuberal indefinitely with no occurrence of oestrus cycles. Reproductive hormones are reduced in ob/ob females (3) demonstrating a functional defect from the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (4-6). The ovaries of ob/ob females are capable of producing viable eggs when transplanted into lean female recipients (7). Reconstitution of reproductive functions in the ob/ob female necessitates delivery of hypothalamic extracts to the third ventricle (8) and administration of pituitary extract (9), gonadotropic hormones (10), progesterone (11) and relaxin (12). These previous findings demonstrate that the sterility of ob/ob females is caused by an insufficiency of hormones at the hypothalamic-pituitary level rather than physical hindrance of copulatory activity, pregnancy and parturition caused by excess adipose tissue. We show here that repeated administration of only the recombinant human ob protein, leptin, into homozygous female ob/ob mice can correct their sterility, thus resulting in ovulation, pregnancy and parturition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • Female
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / complications
  • Infertility, Female / drug therapy*
  • Leptin
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Obese
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use


  • DNA Primers
  • Leptin
  • Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins