Leptin expression in adipose tissue from obese humans: depot-specific regulation by insulin and dexamethasone

Am J Physiol. 1998 Sep;275(3):E507-15. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.1998.275.3.E507.


We investigated the in vitro regulation of leptin expression in adipose tissue from severely obese women and men before and after culture with insulin (7 nM) and/or dexamethasone (25 nM). Leptin mRNA and leptin secretion were two- to threefold higher in subcutaneous vs. omental adipose tissue before culture. Dexamethasone transiently increased leptin mRNA approximately twofold in both depots after 1 day of culture [P < 0.01 vs. basal (no hormone control)], but leptin secretion was only increased in omental adipose tissue (P < 0.005 vs. basal). Insulin did not increase leptin mRNA in either depot but increased leptin secretion approximately 1.5- to 3-fold in subcutaneous tissue throughout 7 days of culture (P < 0.05 vs. basal). The combination of insulin and dexamethasone increased leptin mRNA and leptin secretion approximately two- to threefold in both depots at day 1 (P < 0.005 vs. basal or insulin) and maintained leptin expression throughout 7 days of culture. We conclude that insulin and glucocorticoid have depot-specific effects and function synergistically as long-term regulators of leptin expression in omental and subcutaneous adipose tissue from obese subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Leptin
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Omentum
  • Premenopause
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Skin
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology


  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Dexamethasone