In vivo leptin expression in cartilage and bone cells of growing rats and adult humans

M. Morroni, R. De Matteis, Carla Palumbo, M. Ferretti, I. Villa, A. Rubinacci, S. Cinti, G. Marotti

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The present investigation was carried out to analyse, immunohistochemically, in vivo leptin expression in cartilage and bone cells, the latter restricted to the elements of the osteogenic system (stromal cells, osteoblasts, osteocytes, bone lining cells). Observations were performed on the first lumbar vertebra, tibia and femur of four rats and on the humerus, femur and acromion of four patients. Histological sections of paraffin-embedded bone samples were immunostained using antibody to leptin. The results showed that, in growing rat bone, leptin is expressed in chondrocytes and stromal cells, but not in osteoblasts; bone lining cells were not found in the microscopic fields examined. In adult human bone, leptin is expressed in chondrocytes, stromal cells and bone lining cells; osteoblasts were not found in the microscopic fields examined. Osteocytes were found to be leptin positive only occasionally and focally in both rat and human bone. The in vivo findings reported show, for the first time, that leptin appears to be expressed only in the cells of the osteogenic lineage (stromal cells, bone lining cells, osteocytes) that, with respect to osteoblasts, are permanent and inactive, i.e. in those cells that according to our terminology constitute the bone basic cellular system (BBCS). Because the BBCS seems to be primarily involved in sensing and integrating mechanical strains and biochemical factors and then in triggering and driving bone formation and/or bone resorption, it appears that leptin seems to be mainly involved in modulating the initial phases of bone modelling and remodelling processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-296
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004



  • Bone
  • Chondrocytes
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leptin
  • Osteogenic cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Anatomy

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