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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 16;279(16):16495-502. Epub 2004 Jan 29.

Leptin counteracts sodium butyrate-induced apoptosis in human colon cancer HT-29 cells via NF-kappaB signaling.

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Laboratoire de Neuroendocrinologie et Biologie Cellular Digestives, INSERM U410, 75860 Paris Cedex 18, France.


This study shows that leptin induced a rapid phosphorylation of p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase, an enhancement of both NF-kappaB DNA binding and transcriptional activities, and a concentration-dependent increase of HT-29 cell proliferation. These effects are consistent with the presence of leptin receptors on cell membranes. The leptin induction of cell growth was associated with an increase of cell population in S and G2/M phase compared with control cells found in G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle. Moreover, cyclin D1 immunoreactivity was enhanced in leptin-treated HT-29 cells and this increase was essentially associated with cell population in G0/G1 phase. On the other hand, we observed that sodium butyrate inhibited cell proliferation by blocking HT-29 cells in G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle. Interestingly, at physiological concentration, leptin prevented sodium butyrate-induced morphological nucleus changes, DNA laddering and suppressed butyrate-induced cell cycle arrest. This anti-apoptotic effect of leptin was associated with HT-29 cell proliferation and activation NF-kappaB pathways. However, the phosphorylation of p42/44 MAP kinase in response to leptin was reduced in butyrate-treated cells. These data demonstrated that leptin is a potent mitogenic factor for intestinal epithelial cells through the MAP kinase and NF-kappaB pathways. They also showed, for the first time, that leptin promotes colon cancer HT-29 cell survival upon butyrate challenge by counteracting the apoptotic programs initiated by this short chain fatty acid probably through the NF-kappaB pathways. Although further studies are required to unravel the precise mechanism, these data may have significance in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer and ulcerative colitis diseases.

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