Objective: To investigate whether insulin and leptin share common intracellular signal transduction pathways and to determine whether these hormonal signaling systems modulate each other's action in rat hypothalamus.
Research methods and procedures: Male Wistar rats were studied after chronic implantation of an intracerebroventricular catheter into the third ventricle. Immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting were used to examine the activation of insulin and leptin signaling molecules in the rat hypothalamus.
Results: Insulin alone is able to produce molecular activation of insulin receptor substrates (IRSs)/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase)/Akt and mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase signaling pathways in hypothalamus, whereas leptin alone activates MAP kinase and IRSs/PI 3-kinase signaling with no effect on Akt. Combined infusion of leptin and insulin provokes a dual action. There was no quantitative potentialization of any single hormone's action on the elements of the insulin signaling pathway, IRSs/PI 3-kinase/Akt, and MAP kinase. Conversely, leptin plus insulin leads to quantitative potentialization of molecular signaling through the Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription pathway.
Discussion: We provide evidence for a convergence of leptin and insulin signaling at the level of IRSs-PI 3-kinase and a divergence at the level of Akt. Moreover, our results indicate a direct and positive cross-talk between insulin and leptin at the level of Janus kinase 2 and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 tyrosine phosphorylation. This mechanism may serve to potentiate the activity of both insulin and leptin pathways and to increase stimulation in physiological processes such as the control of food intake and body weight, which are under the combined control of insulin and leptin.