Emerging research has highlighted the importance of leptin in fetal growth and development, independent of its essential role in the regulation of feeding and energy metabolism. Leptin is now considered an important signaling molecule of the reproductive system, since it regulates the production of gonadotropins, the blastocyst formation and implantation, the normal placentation, as well as the feto-placental communication. Placental leptin is an important cytokine which regulates placental functions in an autocrine or paracrine manner. Leptin seems to play a crucial role during the first stages of pregnancy as it modulates critical processes like proliferation, protein synthesis, invasion, and apoptosis in placental cells. Furthermore, deregulation of leptin levels has been correlated with the pathogenesis of various disorders associated with reproduction and gestation, including gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Due to the relevant incidence of the GDM and the importance of leptin, we decided to review the latest information available about leptin action in normal and GDM pregnancies to support the idea of leptin as an important factor and/or predictor of diverse disorders associated with reproduction and pregnancy.
Part of the book: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus