Integration of the regulation of reproductive function and energy balance: Lactation as a model

M. Susan Smith, Kevin L. Grove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Lactation is a physiological model for studying how the hypothalamus integrates peripheral signals, such as sensory signals (suckling stimulus) and those denoting energy balance (leptin), to alter hypothalamic function regulating food intake/energy balance and reproduction. The characteristics of food intake/energy balance during lactation are extreme hyperphagia, coupled with negative energy balance. The arcuate nucleus Neuropeptide Y (ARH-NPY) system is activated by: (1) brainstem projections specifically activated by the suckling stimulus, and (2) the decrease in leptin in response to the metabolic drain of milk production. NPY neurons from the ARH make direct contact with GnRH neurons and with CRH neurons in the PVH. NPY neurons also make contact with orexin and MCH neurons in the LHA, which, in turn, make contacts with GnRH neurons. Thus, the ARH-NPY system provides a neuroanatomical framework by which to integrate changes in food intake/energy with the regulation of cyclic reproductive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-256
Number of pages32
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems


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