Leptin receptors in the adrenal medulla of the rat

Gao Yuan Cao, Robert V. Considine, Richard B. Lynn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Scopus citations


Leptin is the protein product of the recently cloned obesity gene. Leptin receptor mRNA is found in a number of central and peripheral locations. The hypothalamus is a presumed site of action. However, little is known about the specific locations of the receptor in peripheral organs. Epinephrine has potent anorectic effects and can cause weight loss by a variety of mechanisms. Excretion of epinephrine is reduced in the ob/ob mouse, which lacks leptin, suggesting an effect by leptin on the adrenal medulla. In the current study, the presence of the leptin receptor was identified on epinephrine secreting cells in the adrenal medulla. Immunohistochemical studies found dense leptin receptor-like immunoreactivity in the adrenal medulla with no labeling in the adrenal cortex. Double immunofluorescent labeling confirmed that the leptin receptor was present on cells that were phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase-like immunoreactive and therefore were epinephrine-secreting cells. Leptin receptor mRNA in the adrenal medulla was detected by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, with the majority of the mRNA coding for the short isoform (Ob-Ra) of the receptor. Finally, autoradiography was performed using 125I- labeled leptin; specific binding was found in the adrenal medulla, with no specific binding in the adrenal cortex. These results suggest that leptin may have a direct effect on epinephrine-secreting cells in the adrenal medulla. Epinephrine may play a role in mediating the effects of leptin to reduce body weight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E448-E452
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2 36-2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoradiography
  • Epinephrine
  • Immunohistochemis- try
  • Obesity
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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