Hexosamine flux has been shown to mediate aspects of nutrient sensing in insulin sensitive tissues and has been hypothesized to represent a satiety signal that results in shunting of fuel toward storage as fat. It has been recently reported that in vitro treatment of fat and muscle cells with hexosamines and acute glucosamine infusion in intact rats stimulate leptin secretion. In order to investigate the effects of chronic, physiologic increases in hexosamine flux on leptin we have examined leptin mRNA and serum leptin in mice overexpressing the rate-limiting enzyme for hexosamine synthesis, GFA, in muscle and fat. Increased levels of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine, the principal end-product of the hexosamine pathway were seen in transgenic fat, consistent with the overexpression of GFA. After overnight fasting, the transgenic mice were hyperleptinemic compared to littermate controls (4.5 ± 0.5 ng/ml in transgenic, 2.8 ± 0.2 in control, p = 0.005) despite equal body weights. In the random-fed state, the leptin levels of control mice increased to 4.1 ± 0.5 ng/ml (p = 0.01) whereas the leptin levels in the transgenics did not increase any further (3.7 ± 0.4 ng/ml). Leptin mRNA levels were also increased in transgenic fat (2.7 ± 0.6 in transgenic compared to 0.8 ± 0.2 in control, arbitrary units normalized to actin, p < 0.007). Despite increased leptin, the transgenic animals did not have lower body fat content. We conclude that hexosamine flux in fat regulates leptin synthesis and secretion.
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