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Endocrinology. 1999 Apr;140(4):1581-5.

Expression of a leptin receptor in immortalized gonadotropin-releasing hormone-secreting neurons.

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Institute of Endocrinology, University of Milan, Italy.


Leptin is secreted by adipocytes and regulates food intake and energy balance through the activation of specific receptors (OB-R). Recent evidence suggests that it is also involved in the control of reproductive processes, by possibly acting on central and peripheral targets. In particular, it has been shown that leptin may indirectly stimulate GnRH release from hypothalamic fragments by acting on interneurons impinging on GnRH-secreting neurons. The possibility that leptin might additionally modulate the activity of GnRH-secreting neurons in a direct way has been addressed in the present study, by using the immortalized GnRH-secreting cell line GT1-7. The presence of OB-R messenger RNA (mRNA) (long form) was detected by RT-PCR analysis of total RNA from GT1-7 cells. An OB-R protein is also expressed in these cells, as shown by immunocytochemistry and by Western blot analysis. The latter has revealed the presence of a single immunoreactive OB-R with an approximate size of 130 kDa. To study the functionality of these receptors, the effect of leptin treatment on GnRH secretion and gene expression in GT1-7 cells were evaluated. Under static conditions, GnRH release was stimulated by exposure to low concentrations of leptin (10(-12) M after 30 min; 10(-10) M after 60 min). The 10(-12) M dose was selected for studying the effect of leptin on GnRH secretion under dynamic conditions. To this purpose, GT1-7 cells were placed in a perifusion system; treatment with leptin (10(-12) M) for 60 min stimulated GnRH release with no changes of pulse frequency. On the contrary, exposure to leptin (10(-12)-10(-10) M) for 1, 3, 6, and 24 h did not affect GnRH gene expression in GT1-7 cells. The present results indicate that GT1-7 cells possess OB-Rs and that leptin may directly affect their function. Taken together with the available reports, these findings suggest that leptin might participate in the regulation of reproductive processes by acting at multiple levels, both centrally and peripherally.

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