Effects of zinc deficiency and supplementation on leptin and leptin receptor expression in pregnant mice

Biol Pharm Bull. 2014;37(4):581-7. doi: 10.1248/bpb.b13-00813.


Leptin is an adipose-derived hormone that primarily regulates energy balance in response to nutrition. Human placental cells produce leptin, whereas murine placental cells produce soluble leptin receptors (Ob-R). However, the roles of these proteins during pregnancy have not been elucidated completely. As an essential metal, zinc (Zn) is central to insulin biosynthesis and energy metabolism. In the present study, the effects of Zn deficiency and supplementation on maternal plasma leptin and soluble Ob-R regulation in pregnant mice placentas were examined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, and Western blotting. Nutritional Zn deficiency significantly reduced plasma insulin concentrations and fetal and placental weights in pregnant mice. Plasma leptin concentrations in pregnant mice also increased 20- to 40-fold compared with those in non-pregnant mice. Although dietary Zn deficiency and supplementation did not affect plasma leptin concentrations in non-pregnant mice, Zn-deficient pregnant mice had significantly reduced plasma leptin concentrations and adipose leptin mRNA expression. In contrast, Zn-supplemented pregnant mice had increased plasma leptin concentrations without increased adipose leptin mRNA expression. Placental soluble Ob-R mRNA expression also decreased in Zn-deficient mice and tended to increase in Zn-supplemented mice. These results indicate that Zn influences plasma leptin concentrations by modulating mRNA expression of soluble Ob-R in the placenta, and leptin in visceral fat during pregnancy. These data suggest that both adipose and placenta-derived leptin system are involved in the regulation of energy metabolism during fetal growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Deficiency Diseases / diet therapy
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / drug effects
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / biosynthesis
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / biosynthesis*
  • Leptin / blood
  • Mice
  • Organ Size
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Leptin / biosynthesis*
  • Zinc / deficiency*
  • Zinc / metabolism
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • Slc2a1 protein, mouse
  • Zinc