Synergistic effects of hypoxia and insulin are regulated by different transcriptional elements of the human leptin promoter

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003 Apr 4;303(2):707-12. doi: 10.1016/s0006-291x(03)00401-7.


Leptin is a regulator on placenta and conceptus during pregnancy. Hyperinsulinism and hypoxia induce partially overlapping pathophysiological disturbances during pregnancy. As insulin and hypoxia are known inducers of leptin secretion, we asked whether these two stimuli have synergistic effects. By analyzing mRNA levels of leptin after stimulation of BeWo cells with insulin in the presence or absence of oxygen, we found a supraadditive effect when incubating hypoxic cells with insulin. As shown by Western-blot of hypoxia-inducible-factor-1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha), the additive effects of these stimuli were not mediated by an increased stabilization of the HIF-complex. We therefore asked what elements of the leptin promoter are responsible for these effects. When deleting a 0.6 kb fragment of the cloned leptin promoter, a so far unknown loss of insulin-dependent activation of transcription, as well as a loss of the supraadditive effect of insulin and hypoxia could be observed. These results provide strong evidence that insulin and hypoxia act as agonists on the human leptin transcription but on two different regulatory elements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Hypoxia / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Primers
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Kidney
  • Leptin / genetics*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / drug effects
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / physiology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology*
  • Transfection


  • DNA Primers
  • Insulin
  • Leptin