In vivo regulation of intestinal absorption of amino acids by leptin

J Endocrinol. 2015 Jan;224(1):17-23. doi: 10.1530/JOE-14-0453. Epub 2014 Oct 27.


Leptin is secreted by the gastric mucosa and is able to reach the intestinal lumen and bind to its receptors located in the apical membranes of enterocytes. We have previously demonstrated that apical leptin inhibits uptake of amino acids in rat intestine in vitro and in Caco-2 cells. The aim of the present work was to investigate the effect of leptin on absorption of amino acids using in vivo techniques, which generate situations closer to physiological conditions. In vivo intestinal absorption of amino acids in rats was measured by isolating a jejunal loop and using the single-pass perfusion system. Disappearance of glutamine (Gln), proline (Pro), and β-alanine (β-Ala) from the perfusate, in the absence or presence of leptin, was measured using a radioactivity method. Luminal leptin (25 nM) inhibited the absorption of 2 mM Pro, 5 mM β-Ala, and 5 mM Gln by approximately 45% after 5-15 min; the effect remained constant until the end of the experiment (80 min) and was rapidly and completely reversed when leptin was removed from the perfusion medium. Moreover, leptin was able to regulate the absorption of galactose and Gln in the same animal, indicating a direct action of the hormone on the specific transporters implicated in the uptake of each nutrient. The results of the present work indicate that luminal leptin decreases absorption of amino acids in vivo in a short-term manner and in a reversible way. These results, together with our previous findings, make it evident that leptin can be considered as a hormone which provides the intestine with a control mechanism to handle absorption of nutrients.

Keywords: amino acids transporters; in vivo; leptin; rat intestine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alanine / metabolism
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Leptin / pharmacology
  • Leptin / physiology*
  • Male
  • Proline / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Time Factors


  • Amino Acids
  • Leptin
  • Glutamine
  • Proline
  • Alanine