Scientific publications

Novel molecular aspects of ghrelin and leptin in the control of adipobiology and the cardiovascular system

May 1, 2014 | Magazine: Obesity Facts

Rodríguez A (1)

(1) Metabolic Research Laboratory, Clínica Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.


Ghrelin and leptin show opposite effects on energy balance. Ghrelin constitutes a gut hormone that is secreted to the bloodstream in two major forms, acylated and desacyl ghrelin.

The isoforms of ghrelin not only promote adiposity by the activation of hypothalamic orexigenic neurons but also directly stimulate the expression of several fat storage-related proteins in adipocytes, including ACC, FAS, LPL and perilipin, thereby stimulating intracytoplasmic lipid accumulation.

Moreover, both acylated and desacyl ghrelin reduce TNF-α-induced apoptosis and autophagy in adipocytes, suggesting an anti-inflammatory role of ghrelin in human adipose tissue. On the other hand, leptin is an adipokine with lipolytic effects.

In this sense, leptin modulates via PI3K/Akt/mTOR the expression of aquaglyceroporins such as AQP3 and AQP7 that facilitate glycerol efflux from adipocytes in response to the lipolytic stimuli via its translocation from the cytosolic fraction (AQP3) or lipid droplets (AQP7) to the plasma membrane.

Ghrelin and leptin also participate in the homeostasis of the cardiovascular system. Ghrelin operates as a cardioprotective factor with increased circulating acylated ghrelin concentrations in patients with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) causally related to LV remodeling during the progression to LVH. Additionally, leptin induces vasodilation by inducible NO synthase expression (iNOS) in the vascular wall.

In this sense, leptin inhibits the angiotensin II-induced Ca(2+) increase, contraction and proliferation of VSMC through NO-dependent mechanisms.

Together, dysregulation of circulating ghrelin isoforms and leptin resistance associated to obesity, type 2 diabetes, or the metabolic syndrome contribute to cardiometabolic derangements observed in these pathologies.

CITATION  Obes Facts. 2014;7(2):82-95. doi: 10.1159/000360837. Epub 2014 Mar 26