Leptin, a cytokine-like hormone secreted by adipocytes, is known to regulate food intake but has also emerged as a significant factor in the regulation of bone mass. In humans, states of energy deprivation with low serum leptin have been associated with low bone mass. In mice, leptin deficiency led to increased trabecular bone mass with overall decrease in cortical bone. Leptin regulates bone metabolism indirectly in the hypothalamus thereby activating the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). In addition to the SNS, leptin also interacts with various hypothalamic neuropeptides, such as cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript, neuropeptide Y and/or neuromedin U, which might modulate the effects of leptin on bone. In osteoblasts sympathetic signaling is further gated by the transcriptional factors called molecular clock. As a result, bone loss is accelerated showing that the central effect of leptin seems to be antiosteogenic. Additionally, leptin has a direct anabolic effect within the bone driving the differentiation of bone marrow stem cells into the osteoblastic cell lineage. Besides the interaction between the central and peripheral pathways, the overall effect of leptin on bone might be bimodal depending on leptin serum concentrations. Regulatory pathways triggering osteoblast activity might open new possibilities for anabolic treatment of osteoporosis.
Cirmanová V, Bayer M, Stárka L, Zajícková K. The effect of leptin on bone: an evolving concept of action. Physiol Res. 2008 February Institute of Endocrinology, Prague, Czech Republic.