Leptin and leptin receptor mRNA are widely expressed in tumors of adipocytic differentiation

Mod Pathol. 2001 Jun;14(6):549-55. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3880349.


Adipose tissue is the principal source of leptin, a cytokine-like peptide with many biologic functions. Leptin binds to the leptin receptor, present in the hypothalamus and in many other tissues, and modulates energy balance and maintenance of body weight. The expression of leptin and leptin receptor in tumors of adipocytic differentiation has not been previously examined. Because normal adipose tissue is the principal source of leptin and expresses leptin receptor, we hypothesized that tumors of adipose tissue differentiation may also express leptin and/or the long functional form of the leptin receptor (OB-Rb). Leptin and OB-Rb were analyzed by immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, RT-PCR, and western blotting in 21 lipomas, 2 hibernomas, and 16 liposarcomas. Immunostaining and in situ hybridization showed leptin and OB-Rb mRNA expression in all cases of lipomas, hibernomas, and liposarcomas, including dedifferentiated and pleomorphic liposarcomas. RT-PCR analysis showed leptin and OB-Rb mRNA in both lipomas (n = 5) and liposarcomas (n = 5). Western blotting identified the 16 kDa leptin protein in a lipoma and a liposarcoma. No important difference in the expression of leptin and OB-Rb mRNA was found between lipomas and liposarcomas, although the level of leptin protein was higher in a lipoma than a liposarcoma by western blotting. These results show for the first time that leptin and OB-Rb mRNA are expressed in lipomas, hibernomas, and liposarcomas. The presence of leptin and its receptor may provide new insights into the pathobiology of these tumors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Leptin / analysis
  • Leptin / genetics*
  • Lipoma / genetics
  • Lipoma / metabolism
  • Lipoma / pathology
  • Liposarcoma / genetics
  • Liposarcoma / metabolism
  • Liposarcoma / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Adipose Tissue / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Neoplasms, Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface*
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Carrier Proteins
  • LEPR protein, human
  • Leptin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Leptin