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      Disruption of Circadian Rhythms: A Crucial Factor in the Etiology of Infertility

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          Infertility represents a growing health problem in industrialized countries. Thus, a greater understanding of the molecular networks involved in this disease could be critical for the development of new therapies. A recent finding revealed that circadian rhythmicity disruption is one of the main causes of poor reproductive outcome. The circadian clock system beats circadian rhythms and modulates several physiological functions such as the sleep-wake cycle, body temperature, heart rate, and hormones secretion, all of which enable the body to function in response to a 24 h cycle. This intricated machinery is driven by specific genes, called “clock genes” that fine-tune body homeostasis. Stress of modern lifestyle can determine changes in hormone secretion, favoring the onset of infertility-related conditions that might reflect disfunctions within the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis. Consequently, the loss of rhythmicity in the suprachiasmatic nuclei might affect pulsatile sexual hormones release. Herein, we provide an overview of the recent findings, in both animal models and humans, about how fertility is influenced by circadian rhythm. In addition, we explore the complex interaction among hormones, fertility and the circadian clock. A deeper analysis of these interactions might lead to novel insights that could ameliorate the therapeutic management of infertility and related disorders.

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          Most cited references 117

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          Molecular architecture of the mammalian circadian clock.

          Circadian clocks coordinate physiology and behavior with the 24h solar day to provide temporal homeostasis with the external environment. The molecular clocks that drive these intrinsic rhythmic changes are based on interlocked transcription/translation feedback loops that integrate with diverse environmental and metabolic stimuli to generate internal 24h timing. In this review we highlight recent advances in our understanding of the core molecular clock and how it utilizes diverse transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms to impart temporal control onto mammalian physiology. Understanding the way in which biological rhythms are generated throughout the body may provide avenues for temporally directed therapeutics to improve health and prevent disease. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Kisspeptin directly stimulates gonadotropin-releasing hormone release via G protein-coupled receptor 54.

            We have recently described a molecular gatekeeper of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis with the observation that G protein-coupled receptor 54 (GPR54) is required in mice and men for the pubertal onset of pulsatile luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) secretion to occur. In the present study, we investigate the possible central mode of action of GPR54 and kisspeptin ligand. First, we show that GPR54 transcripts are colocalized with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons in the mouse hypothalamus, suggesting that kisspeptin, the GPR54 ligand, may act directly on these neurons. Next, we show that GnRH neurons seem anatomically normal in gpr54-/- mice, and that they show projections to the median eminence, which demonstrates that the hypogonadism in gpr54-/- mice is not due to an abnormal migration of GnRH neurons (as occurs with KAL1 mutations), but that it is more likely due to a lack of GnRH release or absence of GnRH neuron stimulation. We also show that levels of kisspeptin injected i.p., which stimulate robust LH and FSH release in wild-type mice, have no effect in gpr54-/- mice, and therefore that kisspeptin acts directly and uniquely by means of GPR54 signaling for this function. Finally, we demonstrate by direct measurement, that the central administration of kisspeptin intracerebroventricularly in sheep produces a dramatic release of GnRH into the cerebrospinal fluid, with a parallel rise in serum LH, demonstrating that a key action of kisspeptin on the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis occurs directly at the level of GnRH release. The localization and GnRH release effects of kisspeptin thus define GPR54 as a major control point in the reproductive axis and suggest kisspeptin to be a neurohormonal effector.
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              Parent-of-origin specific allelic associations among 106 genomic loci for age at menarche

              Age at menarche is a marker of timing of puberty in females. It varies widely between individuals, is a heritable trait and is associated with risks for obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and all-cause mortality 1 . Studies of rare human disorders of puberty and animal models point to a complex hypothalamic-pituitary-hormonal regulation 2,3 , but the mechanisms that determine pubertal timing and underlie its links to disease risk remain unclear. Here, using genome-wide and custom-genotyping arrays in up to 182,416 women of European descent from 57 studies, we found robust evidence (P<5×10−8) for 123 signals at 106 genomic loci associated with age at menarche. Many loci were associated with other pubertal traits in both sexes, and there was substantial overlap with genes implicated in body mass index and various diseases, including rare disorders of puberty. Menarche signals were enriched in imprinted regions, with three loci (DLK1/WDR25, MKRN3/MAGEL2 and KCNK9) demonstrating parent-of-origin specific associations concordant with known parental expression patterns. Pathway analyses implicated nuclear hormone receptors, particularly retinoic acid and gamma-aminobutyric acid-B2 receptor signaling, among novel mechanisms that regulate pubertal timing in humans. Our findings suggest a genetic architecture involving at least hundreds of common variants in the coordinated timing of the pubertal transition.

                Author and article information

                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                30 May 2020
                June 2020
                : 21
                : 11
                [1 ]Molecular and Clinical Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, 00161 Rome, Italy; francesca.sciarra@ 123456uniroma1.it (F.S.); edoardo.franceschini@ 123456uniroma1.it (E.F.); federica.campolo@ 123456uniroma1.it (F.C.); daniele.gianfrilli@ 123456uniroma1.it (D.G.); andrea.isidori@ 123456uniroma1.it (A.M.I.)
                [2 ]Laboratory of Seminology–Sperm Bank “Loredana Gandini”, Department of Experimental Medicine, “Sapienza” University of Rome, 00161 Rome, Italy; francesco.pallotti@ 123456uniroma1.it (F.P.); donatella.paoli@ 123456uniroma1.it (D.P.)
                Author notes
                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


                Molecular biology

                hormones regulation, clock genes, fertility, reproduction, spermatogenesis


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