Problem: Leptin has a key role to play in human female reproduction. Its receptor is expressed highly throughout the reproductive tract. Cytokines have an important role in preparing the endometrium for implantation and leptin is known to modulate cytokine production in other tissues. We, therefore, investigated the possible role of leptin in endometrial growth and function.
Method of Study: Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunocytochemistry were used to determine the pattern of expression of leptin receptor isoforms in primary human endometrial epithelial and stromal cells in culture. The effect of leptin on cell growth and on the production of cytokines [Leukaemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF), interleukin 6 and tumour necrosis factor-α] and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) (MMP2 and MMP-9) was also investigated.
Results: Expression of the long form of the leptin was restricted to the cultured endometrial, epithelial cells. Both cultured endometrial stromal and epithelial cells expressed the short and variant isoforms of the receptor. Incubation of epithelial and stromal cell cultures with varying concentrations of leptin (0–1000 ng/mL) had no significant effect on cell growth or levels of MMP-2 or MMP-9 production. Leptin also had no significant effect on cytokine production by epithelial cells.
Conclusions: This study shows for the first time, the presence of leptin receptor isoforms on endometrial, epithelial and stromal cells in culture. Leptin had no effect on cytokine and MMP production by these cells. However, it is possible that leptin affects other factors within the endometrium not investigated here.