Fasting and glucose effects on pituitary leptin expression: Is leptin a local signal for nutrient status?

Christopher Crane, Noor Akhter, Brandy W. Johnson, Mary Iruthayanathan, Farhan Syed, Akihiko Kudo, Yi Hong Zhou, Gwen V. Childs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Leptin, a potent anorexigenic hormone, is found in the anterior pituitary (AP). The aim of this study was to determine whether and how pituitary leptin-bearing cells are regulated by nutritional status. Male rats showed 64% reductions in pituitary leptin mRNA 24 hr after fasting, accompanied by significant (30-50%) reductions in growth hormone (GH), prolactin, and luteinizing hormone (LH), and 70-80% reductions in target cells for gonadotropin-releasing hormone or growth hormone-releasing hormone. There was a 2-fold increase in corticotropes. Subsets (22%) of pituitary cells coexpressed leptin and GH, and <5% coexpressed leptin and LH, prolactin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, or adrenocorticotropic hormone. Fasting resulted in significant (55-75%) losses in cells with leptin proteins or mRNA, and GH or LH. To determine whether restoration of serum glucose could rescue leptin, LH, and GH, additional fasted rats were given 10% glucose water for 24 hr. Restoring serum glucose in fasted rats resulted in pituitary cell populations with normal levels of leptin and GH and LH cells. Similarly, LH and GH cells were restored in vitro after populations from fasted rats were treated for as little as 1 hr in 10-100 pg/ml leptin. These correlative changes in pituitary leptin, LH, and GH, coupled with leptin's rapid restoration of GH and LH in vitro, suggest that pituitary leptin may signal nutritional changes. Collectively, the findings suggest that pituitary leptin expression could be coupled to glucose sensors like glucokinase to facilitate rapid responses by the neuroendocrine system to nutritional cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1059-1073
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Corticotropes
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone
  • Growth hormone
  • Growth-stimulating hormone
  • Leptin
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Releasing hormone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


Dive into the research topics of 'Fasting and glucose effects on pituitary leptin expression: Is leptin a local signal for nutrient status?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this