Leptin is a polypeptide hormone originally thought to be produced exclusively by adipocytes. However, both leptin mRNA and leptin protein were identified in human placental trophoblast cells, suggesting a potential role in human pregnancy. In the present report, we examined the regulation of leptin mRNA levels and secretion by cAMP, glucocorticoids, and insulin in term human placental tissue. Placentae were obtained immediately after delivery from mothers with uncomplicated pregnancies. Leptin concentrations were measured by ELISA in the cultured media of trophoblast maintained in monolayer culture for 24, 48, and 72 h. Likewise leptin mRNA levels in these cultured human trophoblast cells were determined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Treatment with forskolin and (Bu)2 cAMP led to a time- and dose-dependent increase in leptin release, significant after 48 and 72 h. Moreover, incubation with forskolin for 48 h also clearly increased leptin mRNA concentration. Leptin secretion and mRNA levels were also assessed after treatment with insulin or dexamethasone. We found a time- and dose-dependent increase in leptin release, significant after 48 and 72 h. Leptin mRNA levels were also increased after these treatments. All this supports a stimulatory role of cAMP pathway, insulin and dexamethasone in the leptin mRNA levels, and leptin release in trophoblast cells in vitro.
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