5 years ago

Linking stress and infertility: a novel role for ghrelin.

Wall HM, Smith R, Hodgson DM, Spencer SJ, Sominsky L, McLaughlin EA
Infertility affects a remarkable one in four couples in developing countries. Psychological stress is a ubiquitous facet of life, and while stress affects us all at some point, prolonged or unmanageable stress may become harmful for some individuals, negatively impacting on their health, including fertility. For instance, women who struggle to conceive are twice as likely to suffer from emotional distress than fertile women. Assisted reproductive technology treatments place an additional physical, emotional and financial burden of stress, particularly on women, who are often exposed to invasive techniques associated with treatment. Stress-reduction interventions can reduce negative affect and in some cases to improve in vitro fertilisation outcomes. Although it has been well-established that stress negatively affects fertility in animal models, human research remains inconsistent due to individual differences and methodological flaws. Attempts to isolate single causal links between stress and infertility have not yet been successful due to their multi-faceted aetiologies. In this review we will discuss the current literature in the field of stress-induced reproductive dysfunction based on animal and human models, and introduce a novel, and until recently unexplored, link between stress and infertility, the gut-derived hormone, ghrelin. We also present evidence from recent seminal studies demonstrating that ghrelin has a principal role in the stress response and reward processing, as well as in regulating reproductive function, and that these roles are tightly interlinked. Collectively, these data support the hypothesis that stress may negatively impact upon fertility at least in part by stimulating a dysregulation in ghrelin signalling.

Publisher URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28938425

DOI: PubMed:28938425

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