The average age in which children have shown indicators of the onset of puberty, such as the thelarche or menarche, has declined over the decades. This fact is alarming because early puberty brings several negative implications. For example, early exposure to sex hormones increases the risk for developing cancers in reproductive organs. The early onset of puberty increases the incidence of social offenses in adolescence and can lead to psychosocial problems. In addition, the anticipation of puberty promotes precocious sexual initiation, increases the number of pregnant adolescents and can affect somatic growth. There are some hypotheses that try to explain the early onset of puberty today, but a well-known fact is that a large proportion of children are overweight. The excess of the body fat changes leptin circulating levels and the responsiveness to this hormone in the hypothalamus (leptin resistance). These changes, in turn, may contribute to the precocious puberty nowadays since leptin is considered a permissive factor for onset of puberty. Therefore, this project aims to investigate the possible role played by the hormone leptin on sexual maturation.We propose experiments to evaluate the possible changes in the acute response to the effects induced by leptin in different sexual maturation stages in hypothalamic nuclei potentially involved in the control of puberty. In summary, this project has the potential to improve our understanding about the molecular mechanisms responsible for the precocious puberty nowadays.
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