Leptin stimulates sympathetic axon outgrowth

Michael J. Pellegrino, Belinda H. McCully, Beth A. Habecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The neurohormone leptin regulates energy homeostasis. Circulating levels of leptin secreted by adipose tissue act on hypothalamic neurons in the brain leading to decreased appetite and increased energy expenditure. Although leptin signaling in the central nervous system (CNS) is fundamental to its ability to regulate the body's metabolic balance, leptin also has a variety of effects in many peripheral tissues including the heart, the liver, and the sympathetic nervous system. Leptin stimulation of the hypothalamus can stimulate glucose uptake via the sympathetic nervous system in heart, muscle, and brown adipose tissue. Leptin receptors (Ob-Rb) are also expressed by peripheral sympathetic neurons, but their functional role is not clear. In this study, we found that leptin stimulates axonal growth of both adult and neonatal sympathetic neurons in vitro. Leptin stimulates acute activation of the transcription factor STAT3 via phosphorylation of tyrosine 705. STAT3 phosphorylation is required for leptin-stimulated sympathetic axon outgrowth. Thus, circulating levels of leptin may enhance sympathetic nerve innervation of peripheral tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Apr 30 2014


  • Axon outgrowth
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Leptin
  • Obesity
  • STAT3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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