Leptin modulates gene expression in the heart and cardiomyocytes towards mitigating ischemia-induced damage

Heba Abd alkhaleq, Ran Kornowski, Maayan Waldman, Ester Levy, Romy Zemel, Vadim Nudelman, Asher Shainberg, Ruth Miskin, Edith Hochhauser

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11 Scopus citations


Leptin, an adipocyte-derived satiety hormone, has been previously linked to cardioprotection. We have shown before that leptin conferred resistance to ischemic damage in the heart in long-lived transgenic αMUPA mice overexpressing leptin compared to the wild type (WT) FVB/N control mice. To better understand the contribution of leptin to the ischemic heart, we measured here the expression of genes encoding leptin and ischemia-related proteins in αMUPA and WT mice in the heart vs adipose tissue after MI. In addition, we investigated gene expression in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes under hypoxia in the absence and presence of exogenously added leptin or a leptin antagonist. We used real time RT-PCR and ELISA or Western blot assays to measure, respectively, mRNA and protein levels. The results have shown that circulating leptin levels and mRNA levels of leptin and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in the heart were elevated in both mouse genotypes after 24 h myocardial infarction (MI), reaching higher values in αMUPA mice. In contrast, leptin gene expression in the adipose tissue was significantly increased only in WT mice, but reaching lower levels compared to the heart. Expression of the proinflammatory genes encoding TNFα and IL-1β was also largely increased after MI in the heart in both mouse types, however reaching considerably lower levels in αMUPA mice indicating a mitigated inflammatory state. In cardiomyocytes, mRNA levels of all aforementioned genes as well as HIF-1α and SOD2 genes were elevated after hypoxia. Pretreatment with exogenous leptin largely reduced the mRNA levels of TNFα and IL-1β after hypoxia, while enhancing expression of all other genes and reducing ROS levels. Pretreating the cells with a leptin antagonist increased solely the levels of leptin mRNA, suggesting a negative regulation of the hormone on the expression of its own gene. Overall, the results have shown that leptin affects expression of genes in cardiomyocytes under hypoxia in a manner that could mitigate inflammation and oxidative stress, suggesting a similar influence by endogenous leptin in αMUPA mice. Furthermore, leptin is likely to function in the ischemic murine heart more effectively in an autocrine compared to paracrine manner. These results suggest that leptin can reduce ischemic damage by modulating gene expression in the heart.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112373
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Cardiomyocytes
  • Gene expression
  • Hypoxia
  • Leptin
  • Myocardial infarction
  • αMUPA mice


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