Placental tissues from humans, rodents and farm animals contain leptin and its receptor. Leptin produced by the human placenta has the same size, charge and immunoreactivity as leptin produced by adipose tissue. However, the expression of human placental leptin appears to be regulated by a placenta-specific upstream enhancer. In this review the occurrence of leptin and its receptor in a range of species and placental types is described, and its significance during pregnancy discussed. Placental leptin contributes to the increase in maternal circulating concentrations of leptin during late pregnancy when it is likely to have an endocrine role in regulating maternal energy balance. Placental leptin may have angiogenic and immunomodulatory activities, which affect the placenta in an autocrine or paracrine manner. It also appears to affect fetal growth and development by binding to leptin receptors present in fetal organs.
- receptor messenger-RNA
- serum leptin