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Leptin regulates MMP-2, TIMP-1 and collagen synthesis via p38 MAPK in HL-1 murine cardiomyocytes


A clear association between obesity and heart failure exists and a significant role for leptin, the product of the obese gene, has been suggested. One aspect of myocardial remodeling which characterizes heart failure is a disruption in the balance of extracellular matrix synthesis and degradation. Here we investigated the effects of leptin on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP) expression, as well as collagen synthesis in HL-1 cardiac muscle cells. Gelatin zymographic analysis of MMP activity in conditioned media showed that leptin enhanced MMP-2 activity in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Leptin is known to stimulate phosphorylation of p38 MAPK in cardiac cells and utilization of the p38 MAPK inhibitor, SB203580, demonstrated that this kinase also plays a role in regulating several extracellular matrix components, such that inhibition of p38 MAPK signaling prevented the leptin-induced increase in MMP-2 activation. We also observed that leptin enhanced collagen synthesis determined by both proline incorporation and picrosirius red staining of conditioned media. Pro-collagen type-I and pro-collagen type-III expression, measured by real-time PCR and Western blotting were also increased by leptin, effects which were again attenuated by SB203580. In summary, these results demonstrate the potential for leptin to play a role in mediating myocardial ECM remodeling and that the p38 MAPK pathway plays an important role in mediating these effects.



activator protein-1


activating transcription factor-2


extracellular matrix


heart failure


left ventricular


mitogen activated protein kinase


matrix metalloproteinase


messenger ribonucleic acid


phosphate buffered saline


polymerase chain reaction


tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase


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Correspondence to Gary Sweeney.

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Key words

  • Leptin
  • Obesity
  • Heart failure
  • Extracellular matrix