In vitro studies have demonstrated leptin-positive effects on the osteoblast lineage and negative effects on osteoclastogenesis. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that leptin may prevent tail-suspension-induced bone loss characterized by an uncoupling pattern of bone remodeling, through both mechanisms. Female rats were randomly tail-suspended or not and treated either with ip administration of leptin or vehicle for 3, 7, and 14 d. As measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, tail-suspension induced a progressive decrease in tibiametaphysis bone mineral density, which was prevented by leptin. Histomorphometry showed that this was related to the prevention of the transient increase in osteoclast number observed with suspension at d 7. These effects could be mediated by the receptor activator of nuclear factor κB-ligand (RANKL)/osteoprotegerin (OPG) pathway since we observed using direct RT-PCR, a suspension-induced increase in RANKL gene expression in proximal tibia at d 3, which was counterbalanced by leptin administration with a similar 3-fold increase in OPG expression and a RANKL to OPG ratio close to nonsuspended conditions. In addition, leptin prevented the decrease in bone formation rate induced by tail-suspension at d 14. The latter could be related to the role of leptin in mediating the reciprocal differentiation between adipocytes and osteoblasts, because leptin concurrently blunted the disuse-induced increase in bone marrow adipogenesis. In summary, these data suggest that peripheral administration of leptin could prevent disuse-induced bone loss through, first, a major inhibitory effect on bone resorption and, second, a delayed effect preventing the decrease in bone formation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas