Integration of hormonal and nutrient signals that regulate leptin synthesis and secretion

Mi Jeong Lee, Susan K. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


This review summarizes recent advances in our understanding of the pre- and posttranscriptional mechanisms that regulate leptin production and secretion in adipocytes. Basal leptin production is proportional to the status of energy stores, i.e., fat cell size, and this is mainly regulated by alterations in leptin mRNA levels. Leptin mRNA levels are regulated by hormones, including glucocorticoids and catecholamines, but little is known about the transcriptional mechanisms involved. Leptin synthesis and secretion is also acutely modulated in response to hormones such as insulin and the availability of metabolic fuels. Acute variations in leptin production over a time course of minutes to hours are mediated at the levels of both translation and secretion. Increases in amino acids and insulin after a meal activate the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, leading to an increase in specific rates of leptin biosynthesis. Cross-talk among mTOR, PKA, and AMPactivated protein kinase pathways appears to integrate hormonal and nutrient signals that regulate leptin mRNA translation, at least in part through mechanisms involving its 5′- and 3′-untranslated regions. In addition, the rate of leptin secretion from preformed stores in response to hormonal cues is also regulated. Insulin stimulates, and adrenergic agonists inhibit, leptin secretion, and this likely contributes to variations in the magnitude of nutrition-related leptin excursions and oscillations. Overall, the study of leptin production has contributed to a deepening understanding of leptin biology and, more broadly, to our understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the adipocyte integrates hormonal and nutrient signals to regulate adipokine production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1230-E1238
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Adipose tissue
  • Adrenergic
  • Feeding
  • Insulin
  • Obesity


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