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Since the initial identification of leptin as the product of the ob gene in 1994, the signaling pathways by which this hormone alters cell physiology have been the subject of extensive investigations. The fact that leptin can induce nitric oxide (NO) production was first demonstrated in studies of the pituitary gland and pancreatic islets. A large number of additional studies further showed that this adipokine stimulates NO synthesis in multiple tissues. This review article discusses the role of leptin in NO production and its pathophysiological consequences. The role of this gaseous messenger in cell physiology depends on the cell type, the concentration of NO and the duration of exposure. It can be either a potent oxidant or a protector of cell integrity against the formation of reactive oxygen species. Leptin plays two opposing roles on arterial pressure. It exerts a hypertensive effect due to sympathetic activation and a vasorelaxant effect due to NO production. This adipokine acts via NO to produce pro-inflammatory factors in cartilage pathology, potentially contributing to an increased risk for osteoarthritis. Another well-documented role of leptin-induced NO, acting either directly or via the hypothalamus, concerns lipid metabolism in muscle and adipose tissue. In adipocytes, the direct and rapid action of leptin is to activate the nitric oxide synthase III, which favors lipolysis. In contrast, in the long-term, leptin reduces lipolysis. However, both in the short-term and in the long-term, glyceroneogenesis and its key enzyme, the cytosolic phosphoenolpyruvatecarboxykinase (PEPCK-C), are down-regulated by the adipokine, thus favoring fatty acid release. Hence, leptin-induced NO production plays a crucial role in fatty acid metabolism in adipose tissue. The resulting effects are to prevent lipid storage and to improve energy expenditure, with possible improvements of the obese state and its associated diseases. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


Nolwenn Joffin, Fatoumata Niang, Claude Forest, Anne-Marie Jaubert. Is there NO help for leptin? Biochimie. 2012 Oct;94(10):2104-10

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PMID: 22750650

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