Leptin modulates the expression of catabolic genes in rat nucleus pulposus cells through the mitogen
Obesity has been demonstrated to be involved in the progress of intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD). However, the associated mechanisms remain to be elucidated. The purpose the present study was to examine the effect of leptin on the expression of degeneration‑associated genes in rat nucleus pulposus (NP) cells, and determine the possible mechanism. Normal NP cells, obtained from Sprague Dawley rats, were identified using immunocytochemistry for the expression of collagen II and CA125, and treated with leptin and/or interleukin (IL)‑β. Subsequently, the mRNA expression levels of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)‑1, MMP‑3, MMP‑9, MMP‑13, a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs (ADAMTS)‑4, ADAMTS‑5, aggrecan and COL2A1 were detected by reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-q‑PCR). Alcian staining and immunocytochemistry were used to examine the expression levels of proteoglycan and collagen II. The pathway activation was investigated using western blotting, and inhibitors of the pathways were used to reveal the effect of these pathways on the NP cells. The results of the RT-qPCR demonstrated that leptin alone upregulated the mRNA expression levels of MMP‑1, MMP‑13, ADAMTS‑4, ADAMTS‑5 and COL2A1. Synergy of leptin and IL‑β was found in the increased expression levels of MMP‑1, MMP‑3 and ADAMTS‑5. The leptin-treated NP cells exhibited decreased expression of collagen II. The mitrogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway (c-Jun-N-terminal kinase, phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase and p38), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway and Janus kinase (JAK)2/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 pathway were all activated by leptin, however, inhibitors of all the pathways, with the exception of the PI3K/Akt pathway, reversed the expression levels of MMP‑1 and MMP‑13. These results suggested that leptin promoted catabolic metabolism in the rat NP cells via the MAPK and JAK2/STAT3 pathways, which may be the mechanism mediating the association between obesity and IDD.
Leptin modulates the expression of catabolic genes in rat nucleus pulposus cells through the mitogen‑activated protein kinase and Janus kinase 2/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 pathways Mol Med Rep. 2015 April