The specific aims of this study are:
- To identify men and women with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and to define the spectrum of abnormalities in GnRH secretion in these patients.
- To study the physiology and control of the reproductive system in the human male and female.
- To determine the relationship between glucose metabolism and testosterone levels in men with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism.
- To characterize the neuroendocrine and metabolic phenotype of subjects with IHH and use this information to make genotype-phenotype correlations.
Despite variability in the triggers, timing, and pace of sexual maturity between species, all species utilize the final pathway of hypothalamic secretion of GnRH to initiate and maintain the reproductive axis. Thus, GnRH is required for reproductive competence in the human. The classic studies of Knobil and his colleagues in the 1970s clearly demonstrated that pulsatile release of GnRH from the hypothalamus is a prerequisite for physiologic gonadotrope function, with continuous stimulation resulting in a paradoxical decrease in gonadotrope responsiveness.
Absence, decreased frequency or decreased amplitude of pulsatile GnRH release results in the clinical syndrome of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH). Deficient GnRH secretion may occur in isolation (idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism [IHH]), in association with anosmia (Kallmann syndrome [KS]) or as a result of a variety of structural and functional lesions of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. The phenotypic expression of GnRH deficiency in the human demonstrates considerable heterogeneity, suggesting that patients with IHH and KS may represent part of a spectrum of isolated GnRH deficiency as opposed to representing discrete diagnostic subsets.
Defining the physiology of GnRH is critical to understanding the clinical heterogeneity of isolated GnRH deficiency. This protocol will utilize the disease model of HH to increase our understanding of the physiology of GnRH secretion. Examining the baseline characteristics of patients with isolated GnRH deficiency allows the determination of the normal requirements for endogenous GnRH secretion in the human.
Recent studies have revealed an association between hyperinsulinemia and low testosterone levels in men. This finding has been demonstrated in normal physiological conditions as well as in insulin resistant states. However, the causal nature and directionality of this relationship is not yet understood. Specifically, do lower testosterone levels cause insulin resistance resulting in hyperinsulinemia or vice versa. Because insulin resistance is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease as well as type 2 diabetes, it is important to investigate this relationship for the implications it may have for prevention of and therapeutic interventions for these disorders.