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Peptides. 2008 Sep;29(9):1596-602. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2008.05.011. Epub 2008 May 22.

Leptin-leptin receptor are involved in angiogenesis in human hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Human Anatomy and Histology, University of Bari Medical School, Piazza G. Cesare, 11, Policlinico, 70124 Bari, Italy.


Recent evidence in vitro and in vivo indicates that leptin, an adipose tissue-secreted hormone which is involved in the regulation of satiety, metabolic rate and thermogenesis, is implicated in angiogenesis. However, the role of leptin-mediated angiogenesis in hepatic carcinogenesis has not yet been completely elucidated. In this study, we have correlated microvascular density and leptin/leptin receptor (Ob-R) expression in endothelial and tumor cells with the histopathological type in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). For this purpose, specimens of 40 primary HCC were submitted to immunohistochemical investigation using anti-CD31, anti-leptin and anti-Ob-R antibodies. Poorly-differentiated HCC had a higher degree of vascularization than other stages and leptin/Ob-R expression in both tumor and endothelial cells increased in parallel with the grade of malignancy and was highly correlated with the degree of angiogenesis. In the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane in vivo assay, HCC biopsy specimens induced a strong angiogenic response, which was counteracted by an anti-leptin antibody. Taken together, these findings indicate that leptin/Ob-R correlate with angiogenesis and tumor progression in patients with HCC and that an anti-leptin antibody exerts an angiostatic activity in HCC.

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