09 March 2001
It is known that circulating leptin shows diurnal variation with a nocturnal rise; however, the mechanisms generating this rhythm have not been fully elucidated. Glucocorticoids are a potent stimulator of leptin secretion, and there is a reciprocal relationship between circulating leptin and glucocorticoid levels. We hypothesized that glucocorticoids could modulate the diurnal rhythm of circulating leptin. We therefore explored the diurnal variation of leptin under situations in which subjects showed no or some shift of glucocorticoid diurnal rhythm, such as prednisolone-administered humans, and adrenalectomized and corticosterone-replaced (ADX+B) rats. The peak level of plasma cortisol immunoreactivity was shifted from early morning to noon by prednisolone administration. The nocturnal increment of plasma leptin in prednisolone-administered patients (71.2 ± 14.2% from 08:00 h value) was significantly greater than that in normal volunteers (12.2 ± 7.5% from 08:00 h value), but the timing of nadir and the peak of plasma leptin was not shifted. In normal rats, the plasma concentration of leptin showed the diurnal rhythm with the bottom at 16:00 h and the top between midnight and early morning. The amplitude of leptin diurnal rhythm was significantly reduced in ADX+B rats (08:00 h: 3.0 ± 0.2, 16:00 h: 2.7 ± 0.2, 00:00 h; 3.7 ± 0.2 ng/ml) compared with sham operated rats (08:00 h: 3.0 ± 0.2, 16:00 h 2.2 ± 0.2, 00:00 h: 4.7 ± 0.4 ng/ml); but ADX+B rats still retained similar timing of nadir and the peak of plasma leptin as observed in sham rats. These results indicate that glucocorticoids enhance the amplitude of leptin diurnal rhythm, and are consistent with previous findings showing that glucocorticoids increase leptin secretion. Glucocorticoids appear to play modulatory, but not essential roles in generating leptin diurnal rhythm.