Leptin is a modulator of food intake and energy homeostasis both in mammals and in some species of nonmammals vertebrates. In this study, we reported for the first time, using an immunohistochemical and immunochemical approach, the presence and distribution of immunoreactivity to leptin-like protein in the gastroenteric tract of Dicentrarchus labrax (bass) and Carassius auratus (goldfish), two teleostean species with different feeding and different adaptative morphological organization of the gastroenteric tract. Bass stomach showed intense immunoreactivity to leptin-like protein in all regions, with immunoreactive cells located at the base of the mucosal plicae and at the apical margin of the gastric crypts. Immunoreactive fibers and neuronal cells were observed close to vascular structures in the pyloric region. In bass and goldfish intestine, rare immunoreactive cells were observed along the mucosal epithelium mostly at the base or the apex of intestinal folds in the proximal and medium intestine; numerous immunoreactive nerve fibers in the circular and longitudinal layers of the tunica muscolaris as well as in the myenteric plexus were observed. Western blot analysis recognized a ∼15 kDa signal with a similar expression pattern for goldfish and sea bass. Our results could contribute to confirm the evolutive conservation of leptin-like proteins and their probably precocious functional diversification in fish.
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