Leptin mRNA was measured in adipose tissue of fetal sheep by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR). Abundance of leptin mRNA relative to b-actin mRNA in fetal perirenal adipose tissue increased (P<0.02) with gestation, being higher at 144 d (0.73 +/- 0. 10, n=5) than at 90-91 d (0.40 +/- 0.08, n=6) or 125 d (0.40 +/- 0. 04, n=5) gestation (term approximately 147- 150 d). There was a positive relationship between relative abundance of leptin mRNA (y) and fetal body weight (x)between 90 and 144 d gestation (r 2 =0.27, P<0.01). The slope of the linear dependence of leptin mRNA on fetal weight was 15-fold greater (P<0.001) at 90-91d (y = 2.81x - 1.1, n=6, r 2 =0.71, P<0.025) than between 125-144 d gestation (y = 0.195x - 0.15, n=16, r 2 =0.39, P<0.01). Thus the leptin synthetic capacity of fetal adipose tissue appears to increase in late gestation but this is accompanied by constraint of its sensitivity to fetal body weight. We hypothesise that leptin synthesis in fetal adipose tissue is related to fetal nutrient supply and growth rate.
SJ Bernard, I Yuen, C McMillen, ME Symonds and PC Owens
Mone Zaidi, Maria I New, Harry C Blair, Alberta Zallone, Ramkumarie Baliram, Terry F Davies, Christopher Cardozo, James Iqbal, Li Sun, Clifford J Rosen and Tony Yuen
Studies over the past decade have challenged the long-held belief that pituitary hormones have singular functions in regulating specific target tissues, including master hormone secretion. Our discovery of the action of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) on bone provided the first glimpse into the non-traditional functions of pituitary hormones. Here we discuss evolving experimental and clinical evidence that growth hormone (GH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), prolactin, oxytocin and arginine vasopressin (AVP) regulate bone and other target tissues, such as fat. Notably, genetic and pharmacologic FSH suppression increases bone mass and reduces body fat, laying the framework for targeting the FSH axis for treating obesity and osteoporosis simultaneously with a single agent. Certain ‘pituitary’ hormones, such as TSH and oxytocin, are also expressed in bone cells, providing local paracrine and autocrine networks for the regulation of bone mass. Overall, the continuing identification of new roles for pituitary hormones in biology provides an entirely new layer of physiologic circuitry, while unmasking new therapeutic targets.