Obesity and Type 2 diabetes can reduce fertility in women. Some women can regain their ability to have children after having gastric bypass surgery, but this doesn’t work for everyone. Dr Moffett wants to understand how infertility develops in people with obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and how it could be reversed.
Background to research
Gastric bypass surgery is an effective way for some people with Type 2 diabetes, who are obese, to lose weight. This surgery can also dramatically improve fertility in women, even before a significant amount of weight is lost.
Gastric bypass surgery has been shown to change the levels of different gut hormones in the body, and Dr Moffett believes that this could help women to regain their fertility. Research has shown that gut hormones can affect part of the brain called the pituitary gland, as well as the adrenal glands found near the kidneys. These glands work together to release a careful balance of hormones that control the reproductive cycle in women.
Dr Moffett wants to understand more about the role of gut hormones and their effects on fertility, to see if we can mimic these benefits using new drugs.
Dr Moffett will study obesity and Type 2 diabetes in rats, to understand how infertility develops, and how gastric bypass surgery can improve fertility. She will also study the effects of gut hormones on cells from pituitary and adrenal glands grown in the lab.
Based on what she finds in these experiments, she will test if it is possible to improve fertility using a specific combination of gut hormone drugs. Dr Moffett hopes to mimic the beneficial effects of gut hormones seen immediately after gastric bypass surgery.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
A better understanding of how obesity, Type 2 diabetes and infertility are linked will help scientists to develop new treatments to restore fertility in women with Type 2 diabetes. This means more support for women who would like to have children in the future, without the need for invasive gastric bypass surgery.