(HealthDay News) -- A hormone called kisspeptin may offer a new treatment for infertility, according to British researchers who found that the hormone can activate the release of sex hormones that control the menstrual cycle.
The study included 10 women who were not menstruating and were infertile due to a hormone imbalance. The researchers injected the participants with either kisspeptin or saline and then measured levels of two sex hormones -- luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) -- essential for ovulation and fertility.
The women who received kisspeptin had a 48-fold increase in LH and a 16-fold increase in FSH, compared to those who received the saline. The study is the first to show that kisspeptin can stimulate production of sex hormones in infertile women, according to the study's authors.
The findings were presented at a Society for Endocrinology meeting in the United Kingdom.
"This research shows that kisspeptin offers huge promise as a treatment for infertility," study author Dr. Waljit Dhillo, of Imperial College London, said in a society news release.
"From our previous results, we know that kisspeptin can stimulate release of reproductive hormones in healthy women. We have now extended this research to show that kisspeptin treatment has the same effect in women with infertility. In fact, our current data show that kisspeptin causes a greater increase in luteinising hormone production in non-menstruating women than in fertile women in the previous study," Dhillo said.
"This is a very exciting result and suggests that kisspeptin treatment could restore reproductive function in women with low sex hormone levels. Our future research will focus on determining the best protocol for repeated kisspeptin administration with the hope of developing a new therapy for infertility," he added.
According to the researchers, kisspeptin is an important regulator of reproductive function. Animals that lack kisspeptin function don't go through puberty and remain sexually immature.
The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more about infertility.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Society for Endocrinology, news release, March 16, 2009