Leptin is an important adipocytokine whose main regulative effects on energy metabolism are exerted via activation of signalling pathways in the central nervous system. Another important regulator of energy homeostasis is insulin. The role of direct autocrine leptin effects on adipose tissue and crosstalk with insulin, in particular in the thermogenically active brown adipose tissue, remains unclear. In the present study, we have investigated leptin secretion and interaction with insulin in highly insulin-responsive immortalised mouse brown adipocytes. Leptin was secreted in a differentiation-dependent manner, and acute leptin treatment of mature adipocytes dose- and time-dependently stimulated phosphorylation of STAT3 and MAP kinase. Interestingly, acute pretreatment of fully differentiated brown adipocytes with leptin (100 nM) significantly diminished insulin-induced glucose uptake by approximately 25%. This inhibitory effect was time-dependent and maximal after 60 min of leptin prestimulation. Furthermore, it correlated with a 35% reduction in insulin-stimulated insulin receptor kinase activity after acute leptin pretreatment. Insulin-induced insulin receptor substrate-1 tyrosine phosphorylation and binding to the regulatory subunit p85 of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) were diminished by approximately 60% and 40%, respectively. Taken together, this study has demonstrated strong differentiation-dependent leptin secretion in brown adipocytes and PI 3-kinase-mediated negative autocrine effects of this hormone on insulin action. Direct peripheral leptin-insulin crosstalk may play an important role in the regulation of energy homeostasis.
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