Adipose tissue secretes multiple hormones termed adipokines, which are important regulators of many processes. There are four types of evidence supporting an association between adipokines and female fertility which are effects that occur: centrally at the pituitary; peripherally and locally at the ovary and reproductive tract; directly on the oocyte/embryo and during pregnancy. In this review, there was a focus on the description of adipokines (leptin, apelin, resistin, chemerin, adiponectin, vaspin and visfatin) on ovarian cell proliferation, cell cycle progression and apoptosis in comparison to effects on human and domestic animal ovaries including pigs, cattle and chickens. Knowledge about molecules which regulate the balance between proliferation and apoptosis so that these processes are optimal for ovarian function is essential for understanding the physiology and reducing the incidence of infertility. Furthermore, oogenesis, folliculogenesis, oocyte loss/selection and atresia are important processes for optimal ovarian physiological functions. There, however, is ovulation from only a few follicles, while the majority undergo atresia that is induced by apoptosis.
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