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Alex M DePaoli

of leptin. Recombinant leptin has also been studied in patients with T2D to assess both weight loss and metabolic effects independent of weight loss. These studies have underscored the challenges of defining effective therapeutic applications of

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C Nilsson, D Swolin-Eide, C Ohlsson, E Eriksson, HP Ho, P Bjorntorp, and A Holmang

Leptin is involved in regulating food intake, energy balance and bone formation. Increasing evidence suggests that leptin is also involved in fetal growth and development. The aim of this study was to determine if increased maternal leptin is followed by changes in body composition, skeletal growth or hormonal regulation in the adult rat offspring. Pregnant rats were given injections of either human recombinant leptin (3.5 mg/kg, i.p.) or vehicle on days 8, 10 and 12 of gestation. Both genders of leptin-exposed offspring showed significantly reduced adipose tIssue weight at adult age. Skeletal growth and cortical bone dimensions were significantly reduced. Circulating testosterone levels were significantly increased in female leptin-exposed offspring, and male leptin-exposed offspring had significant testicular enlargement. No significant effects were seen on circulating leptin levels or hypothalamic protein levels of the leptin receptor. The results demonstrate that maternally administered leptin is involved in fetal growth and development, leading to lean offspring with reduced skeletal growth.

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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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Y Zhang, JT Wilsey, CD Frase, MM Matheny, BS Bender, S Zolotukhin, and PJ Scarpace

Leptin is a peripheral immunoenhancing reagent that directly activates splenic lymphocytes in mice. We found that a 48 h fast in rats resulted in a decrease in serum leptin that was accompanied by a lower delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) response. Peripheral leptin replacement completely restored this response in fasted animals. We employed a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) system to deliver leptin gene directly into rat brain to assess the effect of sustained long-term central expression of leptin on immune responses. The rAAV-leptin rats had elevated central leptin over the 60 day duration of the experiment, whereas body fat and circulating leptin fell to near zero levels. The DTH response was significantly reduced by 10-20% in rats receiving rAAV-leptin compared with the control rats, and the difference was maintained for over 50 h. When the rats undergoing rAAV-leptin gene therapy were given either murine recombinant leptin or PBS s.c., rats receiving leptin had a 17% higher DTH response than rats receiving PBS. The isolated splenocytes from the former group also proliferated 34% more in vitro in response to the mitogen concanavalin A as compared with the latter group. These results suggest that peripheral leptin has a dominant role in maintaining T-cell-mediated immune responses in rats, and central leptin is unable to compensate for the immunosuppression associated with peripheral hypoleptinemia. Furthermore, preservation of normal cell-mediated immune responses does not require fat tissue as along as serum leptin levels are maintained.

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N Mito, H Yoshino, T Hosoda, and K Sato

Leptin can regulate several immune functions. However, the role of leptin on lymphocyte function has not been recognized in vivo. Accordingly, we have investigated the effect of leptin on starvation-induced immune dysfunction using diet-induced obese mice. To induce obesity, C57BL/6J mice were fed a high-fat diet for 14 weeks and control mice were fed a standard diet for the same period. The obese and control groups of mice were then starved for 48 h, and received intraperitoneal injections of recombinant leptin or phosphate-buffered saline four times during starvation. Other control mice in both diet groups were free fed without being starved. Although starvation of the control mice dramatically reduced the weights of the immune organs, cytokine production and increased proliferation of cultured splenocytes, these levels returned to those of the free-feeding groups with exogenous leptin administration. However, these effects of leptin were not observed in obese mice. These findings provide some evidence that leptin can regulate the immune function in vivo. It is also suggested that the action of leptin might not appear in obesity.

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K Kauter, M Ball, P Kearney, R Tellam, and McFarlane JR

Leptin, a recently discovered hormone secreted mainly from adipose tissue, was first described as a regulator of adiposity, food intake and energy metabolism. It is now apparent that leptin physiology is much more complex and is likely to play an important role in many other systems including reproduction, haematopoiesis and immunity. Leptin levels have been shown to be well correlated with body fat in both humans and rodents, with administration of exogenous leptin to rats and mice resulting in loss of body fat. Leptin is, therefore, likely to be an important humoral signal to the central nervous system on body composition and regulation of food consumption. Due to the limited cross-reactivity of leptin from other species in the current assays for leptin, physiological research on leptin has, to a large extent, been restricted to rodents and humans. The aim of this study was to develop a leptin immunoassay suitable for use with sheep, enabling the investigation of the basic physiology of leptin in an animal larger than rats or mice, thus allowing repeated blood sampling. Using this assay we investigated the short-term effects of insulin, adrenaline and glucagon (all modulators of blood glucose) on plasma leptin levels. Antiserum to bovine recombinant leptin (brLeptin) raised in chickens was used to develop a competitive ELISA. Using brLeptin as standard, the assay has a sensitivity of 0. 5 ng/ml with inter- and intra-assay variation of 15% and 7% respectively. The cross-reactivity of human recombinant leptin was 36.5%, while mouse leptin showed no cross-reactivity. Plasma samples from ewes, male castrate animals and rams (n=4-5) diluted in parallel to the standard with mean leptin concentrations of 6.0+/-2. 9, 3.3+/-0.4 and 3.1+/-1.3 ng/ml respectively. Leptin levels in rams were significantly lower than in ewes. The non-significant difference in leptin levels between rams and male castrate animals suggests that testosterone may not be responsible for the lower levels of leptin. Four groups of 3-4 ewes were given intravenous insulin (1 iu/kg), adrenaline (65 microg/kg), glucagon (24 iu/kg) or saline. Blood samples were taken at 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 30, 60, 90 and 120 min after injection. As expected, glucose levels declined within 10 min of the insulin injection and rose after 3 min following both adrenaline and glucagon injections. Leptin levels, however, remained relatively unchanged for the 2 h following the treatments. Finally, a bolus intravenous dose of glucose (240 mg/kg) was given and sequential blood samples taken. Despite plasma glucose levels rising to over 200 mg/dl, leptin levels did not significantly change over the three hours following treatment. These data indicate that plasma leptin levels in sheep, in contrast to rodents, are not responsive to short-term changes in blood glucose or insulin, as has been shown in humans.

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M Tena-Sempere, PR Manna, FP Zhang, L Pinilla, LC Gonzalez, C Dieguez, I Huhtaniemi, and E Aguilar

Leptin, the product of the ob gene, is a pivotal signal in the regulation of neuroendocrine function and fertility. Although much of the action of leptin in the control of the reproductive axis is exerted at the hypothalamic level, some direct effects of leptin on male and female gonads have also been reported. Indeed, recent evidence demonstrated that leptin is able to inhibit testosterone secretion at the testicular level. However, the molecular mechanisms behind this effect remain unclear. The focus of this study was twofold: (1) to identify potential targets for leptin-induced inhibition of steroidogenesis, and (2) to characterize in detail the pattern of expression and cellular distribution of leptin receptor (Ob-R) mRNA in adult rat testis. In pursuit of the first goal, slices of testicular tissue from adult rats were incubated with increasing concentrations of recombinant leptin (10(-9)--10(-7 )M) in the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG; 10 IU/ml). In this setting, testosterone secretion in vitro was monitored, and expression levels of mRNAs encoding steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1), steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450 scc) and 17 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type III (17 beta-HSD) were assessed by Northern hybridization. In pursuit of the second goal, the pattern of cellular expression of the Ob-R gene in adult rat testis was evaluated by in situ hybridization using a riboprobe complementary to all Ob-R isoforms. In addition, testicular expression levels of the different Ob-R isoforms, previously identified in the hypothalamus, were analyzed by means of semi-quantitative RT-PCR. In keeping with our previous data, recombinant leptin significantly inhibited hCG-stimulated testosterone secretion. In this context, leptin, in a dose-dependent manner, was able to co-ordinately decrease the hCG-stimulated expression levels of SF-1, StAR and P450 scc mRNAs, but it did not affect those of 17 beta-HSD type III. In situ hybridization analysis showed a scattered pattern of cellular expression of the Ob-R gene within the adult rat testis, including Leydig and Sertoli cells. In addition, assessment of the pattern of expression of Ob-R subtypes revealed that the long Ob-Rb isoform was abundantly expressed in adult rat testis. However, variable levels of expression of Ob-Ra, Ob-Re, and Ob-Rf mRNAs were also detected, whereas those of the Ob-Rc variant were nearly negligible. In conclusion, our results indicate that decreased expression of mRNAs encoding several up-stream elements in the steroidogenic pathway may contribute, at least partially, to leptin-induced inhibition of testicular steroidogenesis. In addition, our data on the pattern of testicular expression of Ob-R isoforms and cellular distribution of Ob-R mRNA may help to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms of leptin action in rat testis.

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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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M G Gnanalingham, A Mostyn, J Wang, R Webb, D H Keisler, N Raver, M C Alves-Guerra, C Pecqueur, B Miroux, T Stephenson, and M E Symonds

Many tissues undergo a rapid transition after birth, accompanied by dramatic changes in mitochondrial protein function. In particular, uncoupling protein (UCP) abundance increases at birth in the lung and adipose tissue, to then gradually decline, an adaptation that is important in enabling normal tissue function. Leptin potentially mediates some of these changes and is known to promote the loss of UCP1 from brown fat but its effects on UCP2 and related mitochondrial proteins (i.e. voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) and cytochrome c) in other tissues are unknown. We therefore determined the effects of once-daily jugular venous administration of ovine recombinant leptin on mitochondrial protein abundance as determined by immunoblotting in tissues that do (i.e. the brain and pancreas) and do not (i.e. liver and skeletal muscle) express UCP2. Eight pairs of 1-day-old lambs received either 100 μg leptin or vehicle daily for 6 days, before tissue sampling on day 7. Administration of leptin diminished UCP2 abundance in the pancreas, but not the brain. Leptin administration had no affect on the abundance of VDAC or cytochrome c in any tissue examined. In leptin-administered animals, but not controls, UCP2 abundance in the pancreas was positively correlated with VDAC and cytochrome c content, and UCP2 abundance in the brain with colonic temperature. In conclusion, leptin administration to neonatal lambs causes a tissue-specific loss of UCP2 from the pancreas. These effects may be important in the regulation of neonatal tissue development and potentially for optimising metabolic control mechanisms in later life.

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M A L Costa da Veiga, K de Jesus Oliveira, F H Curty, and C C Pazos de Moura

μg/100 g BW mouse recombinant leptin (National Hormone Pituitary Program (NHPP), NIH, Torrance, CA, USA). The rats were killed by decapitation 2 h after the injection. The time was chosen based on our previous report on euthyroid animals ( Ortiga