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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 518046, 10 pages
Review Article

Role of GnRH Neurons and Their Neuronal Afferents as Key Integrators between Food Intake Regulatory Signals and the Control of Reproduction

Juan Roa1,2,3

1Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, University of Córdoba, Avenida Menéndez Pidal s/n, 14004 Córdoba, Spain
2CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain
3Instituto Maimónides de Investigaciones Biomédicas (IMIBIC)/Hospital Universitario Reina Sofia, Córdoba, Spain

Received 28 June 2013; Accepted 7 August 2013

Academic Editor: Carlos Dieguez

Copyright © 2013 Juan Roa. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Reproductive function is regulated by a plethora of signals that integrate physiological and environmental information. Among others, metabolic factors are key components of this circuit since they inform about the propitious timing for reproduction depending on energy availability. This information is processed mainly at the hypothalamus that, in turn, modulates gonadotropin release from the pituitary and, thereby, gonadal activity. Metabolic hormones, such as leptin, insulin, and ghrelin, act as indicators of the energy status and convey this information to the reproductive axis regulating its activity. In this review, we will analyse the central mechanisms involved in the integration of this metabolic information and their contribution to the control of the reproductive function. Particular attention will be paid to summarize the participation of GnRH, Kiss1, NPY, and POMC neurons in this process and their possible interactions to contribute to the metabolic control of reproduction.