Background: Obesity increases the risk for malignancies in various tissues including the stomach. Atrophic gastritis with precancerous lesions is an obesity-associated disease; however, the mechanisms that underlie the development of obesity-associated atrophic gastritis are unknown. Leptin is a hormone derived from stomach as well as adipose tissue and gastric leptin is involved in the development of gastric cancer. The aim of the current study is to investigate the involvement of leptin receptor signaling in the development of atrophic gastritis during diet-induced obesity.
Methods: Male C57BL/6, ob/ob and db/db mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) or a control diet (CD) from 1 week to 5 months. Pathological changes of the gastric mucosa and the expression of molecules associated with atrophic gastritis were evaluated in these mice.
Results: HFD feeding induced gastric mucosal hyperplasia with increased gastric leptin expression. Mucosal hyperplasia was accompanied by a higher frequency of Ki67-positive proliferating cells and atrophy of the gastric glands in the presence of inflammation, which increased following HFD feeding. Activation of ObR signaling-associated molecules such as ObR, STAT3, Akt, and ERK was detected in the gastric mucosa of mice fed the HFD for 1 week. The morphological alterations associated with gastric mucosal atrophy and the expression of Muc2 and Cdx2 resemble those associated with human intestinal metaplasia. In contrast to wild-type mice, leptin-deficient ob/ob mice and leptin receptor-mutated db/db mice did not show increased Cdx2 expression in response to HFD feeding.
Conclusion: Together, these results suggest that activation of the leptin signaling pathway in the stomach is required to develop obesity-associated atrophic gastritis.
Keywords: Atrophic gastritis; High-fat diet; Leptin; Obesity.