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M Tena-Sempere, L Pinilla, LC Gonzalez, FF Casanueva, C Dieguez, and E Aguilar

Leptin, the adipocyte-produced hormone that plays a key role in body weight homeostasis, has recently been found to be involved in the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Moreover, reciprocal interactions between leptin and glucocorticoids have been described. In the present communication, two different strategies were undertaken to explore the mode of action of leptin in the direct control of rat adrenal function. First, a synthetic peptide approach demonstrated that the inhibitory effect of leptin on basal and ACTH-stimulated corticosterone secretion in vitro is, at least partially, mapped to a domain of the native protein between amino acids 116 and 130, i.e. an area of the molecule also relevant in terms of regulation of food intake and endocrine control. Secondly, semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis indicated a complex pattern of adrenal leptin receptor (Ob-R) mRNA expression, with predominant expression of the Ob-Ra and Ob-Rb isoforms, as well as moderate levels of the Ob-Rc and Ob-Rf variants, whereas negligible signals for the Ob-Re isoform were detected. Interestingly, such an expression pattern appeared hormonally regulated as exposure to human recombinant leptin (10(-7 )M) or ACTH (10(-7 )M) significantly decreased Ob-R isoform mRNA expression. Indeed, dose-dependent ligand-induced Ob-Ra and Ob-Rb mRNA down-regulation was further confirmed by adrenal stimulation with increasing concentrations (10(-9)-10(-5 )M) of the active leptin fragment, leptin 116-130 amide. Overall, our results provide evidence for a novel regulatory step at the level of Ob-R mRNA expression in the interplay between ACTH and leptin for the tuning of rat adrenal corticosterone secretion. Furthermore, our data showing down-regulation of Ob-R mRNA expression by its cognate ligand may well be relevant to leptin physiology and its alteration in various disease states.

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C Menendez, M Lage, R Peino, R Baldelli, P Concheiro, C Dieguez, and FF Casanueva

Leptin, the product of the ob gene, is secreted into the circulation by white adipose tissue; its major role being to participate in the regulation of energy homeostasis. Plasma leptin levels are mainly determined by the relative adiposity of the subject; however, the great dispersion of values for any given body mass index and the noteworthy gender-based differences indicate that other factors are operating. Steroid hormones actively participate in the regulation of leptin secretion; however, non-steroid nuclear hormones have either not been studied or have provided contradictory results. In order to understand the role of hormones of the non-steroid superfamily such as 3,5,3'-tri-iodothyronine (T(3)), vitamin D(3) and retinoic acid (RA) in the control of leptin secretion, in the present work doses of 10(-9), 10(-8) and 10(-7) M of these compounds have been studied on in vitro leptin secretion. The organ culture was performed with omental adipose tissue samples from healthy donors (n=28). T(3) was devoid of effect at any dose studied, while an inhibition of leptin secretion was observed with 9-cis-RA (slight) and all-trans-RA (potent). Interestingly, vitamin D(3) exerted a powerfully inhibitory role at the doses studied, and its action was synergistic with all-trans-RA. In conclusion, in vitro leptin secretion by human adipose tissue is negatively controlled by either RA or vitamin D(3). The clinical significance of leptin regulation by this superfamily of nuclear receptors remains to be ascertained.

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M Tena-Sempere, L Pinilla, LC Gonzalez, C Dieguez, FF Casanueva, and E Aguilar

Leptin, the product of the ob gene, has emerged recently as a pivotal signal in the regulation of fertility. Although the actions of leptin in the control of reproductive function are thought to be exerted mainly at the hypothalamic level, the potential direct effects of leptin at the pituitary and gonadal level have been poorly characterised. In the present study, we first assessed the ability of leptin to regulate testicular testosterone secretion in vitro. Secondly, we aimed to evaluate whether leptin can modulate basal gonadotrophin and prolactin (PRL) release by incubated hemi-pituitaries from fasted male rats. To attain the first goal, testicular slices from prepubertal and adult rats were incubated with increasing concentrations (10(-9)-10(-7) M) of recombinant leptin. Assuming that in vitro testicular responsiveness to leptin may be dependent on the background leptin levels, testicular tissue from both food-deprived and normally-fed animals was used. Furthermore, leptin modulation of stimulated testosterone secretion was evaluated by incubation of testicular samples with different doses of leptin in the presence of 10 IU human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). In addition, analysis of leptin actions on pituitary function was carried out using hemi-pituitaries from fasted adult male rats incubated in the presence of increasing concentrations (10(-9)-10(-7) M) of recombinant leptin. Serum testosterone levels, and basal and hCG-stimulated testosterone secretion by incubated testicular tissue were significantly decreased by fasting in prepubertal and adult male rats. However, a significant reduction in circulating LH levels was only evident in adult fasted rats. Doses of 10(-9)-10(-7) M leptin had no effect on basal or hCG-stimulated testosterone secretion by testes from prepubertal rats, regardless of the nutritional state of the donor animal. In contrast, leptin significantly decreased basal and hCG-induced testosterone secretion by testes from fasted and fed adult rats. In addition, 10(-9) M leptin inhibited LH and FSH secretion by incubated hemi-pituitaries from fasted adult males, whereas, at all doses tested, it was ineffective in modulating PRL release. Our results show that leptin, depending on the state of sexual maturation, is able to inhibit testosterone secretion acting at the testicular level. Furthermore, the present data suggest that the actions of leptin on the reproductive system are complex and are probably carried out at different levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.

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C Menendez, R Baldelli, JP Camina, B Escudero, R Peino, C Dieguez, and FF Casanueva

Leptin is a circulating hormone secreted by adipose tIssue which acts as a signal to the central nervous system where it regulates energy homeostasis and neuroendocrine processes. Although leptin modulates the secretion of several pituitary hormones, no information is available regarding a direct action of pituitary products on leptin release. However, it has been pointed out that leptin and TSH have a coordinated pulsatility in plasma. In order to test a direct action of TSH on in vitro leptin secretion, a systematic study of organ cultures of human omental adipose tIssue was performed in samples obtained at surgery from 34 patients of both sexes during elective abdominal surgery. TSH powerfully stimulated leptin secretion by human adipose tIssue in vitro. In contrast, prolactin, ACTH, FSH and LH were devoid of action. These results suggest that leptin and the thyroid axis maintain a complex and dual relationship and open the possibility that plasmatic changes in TSH may contribute to the regulation of leptin pulses.