Human leptin induces angiogenesis in vivo

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Leptin is an adipocyte-produced peptide, which plays a crucial role in the regulation of body weight. There is also evidence that leptin stimulates endothelial cell proliferation and the formation of capillary-like tubes in vitro. The disc angiogenesis system was used to measure the angiogenic effect of leptin in vivo. Discs containing 25, 50, 100 and 250 ng/ml of leptin were implanted subcutaneously in Wistar rats, removed after a growth period of 7 and 14 days, and compared with spontaneous growth controls and with positive controls containing equivalent doses of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Discs were examined morphologically for stroma and vessel development and by immunohistochemistry for quantitative evaluation of angiogenesis. The specificity of the angiogenic effect of leptin was tested by blocking leptin with a polyclonal anti-leptin antibody. Leptin induced a significant level of angiogenesis in a dose-dependent manner both at 7 and 14 days, with a peak at the dose of 100 ng/ml. The angiogenic activity of leptin was completely abolished by the anti-leptin neutralizing antibody. VEGF also induced significant dose-dependent angiogenesis at the same time points with a peak observed at a concentration of 100 ng/ml. The angiogenic response to leptin was significantly higher at 7 days compared with VEGF but not at the 14-day time point. In conclusion, leptin has a specific angiogenic effect in vivo, which is dose- and time-dependent in a concentration range of 25–250 ng/ml. This effect is equivalent to the angiogenic effect of VEGF but is evident earlier compared with VEGF.

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