Endocrinology of female puberty

Sara A. DiVall, Sally Radovick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: Puberty is the developmental process that culminates in reproductive capability. It is initiated by the release of gonadotropin- releasing hormone from specialized neurons of the hypothalamus to stimulate hormonal cascades and gonadal activation. The age of pubertal onset in girls may be younger than in previous decades, emphasizing the gaps in knowledge about pubertal onset and factors that modulate it. This review describes the state of the debate on the age of pubertal initiation, recent insights into the physiology of female puberty and its relationship to childhood obesity, and the regulation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons at puberty. Recent findings: Recent studies suggest that the average age of pubertal onset is decreasing in American girls, sparking controversy in defining the age at which puberty is considered precocious. Obese girls have hyperinsulinemia and hyperandrogenemia prepubertally, but it is unclear whether these factors play a role in the early onset of puberty in obese girls. The kisspeptin/G protein-coupled receptor 54 pathway is important for pubertal initiation; an activating mutation in the pathway has been associated with precocious puberty. Summary: The recent trend toward obesity has been proposed to play a role in the cause of early puberty in girls. The molecular mechanisms that initiate puberty are slowly being elucidated, with the discovery of kisspeptin prompting a novel direction in reproductive research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • G protein-coupled receptor 54
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone
  • Kisspeptin
  • Obesity
  • Pubertal onset


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