Interaction between leptin and sympathetic nervous system in hypertension
- Cite this article as:
- Haynes, W.G. Current Science Inc (2000) 2: 311. doi:10.1007/s11906-000-0015-1
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Leptin is a protein produced by adipose tissue that acts in the central nervous system (CNS) to decrease appetite and increase energy expenditure. Leptin thus functions as the afferent component of a negative feedback loop that maintains stable adipose tissue mass. Intravenous leptin increases norepinephrine turnover and sympathetic nerve activity to thermogenic brown adipose tissue. Leptin also increases sympathetic nerve activity to tissues not usually considered thermogenic, including the kidney, hindlimb, and adrenal gland. Chronic systemic CNS administration of leptin increases arterial pressure and heart rate in conscious animals. However, leptin has additional cardiovascular actions that may act to oppose sympathetically mediated vasoconstriction. These actions include natriuresis, insulin sensitization, endothelium-dependent dilatation, and angiogenesis. Thus, the overall effect of leptin on arterial pressure has been unclear. Recent studies have demonstrated that leptin-deficient ob/ob obese mice have lower arterial pressure than lean controls with normal leptin levels. These studies suggest that leptin contributes physiologically to maintenance of arterial pressure. Leptin expression and plasma leptin concentrations are elevated in obese humans. Abnormalities in the generation or actions of leptin may, therefore, have implications for the sympathetic, cardiovascular, and renal changes associated with obesity.