Induction of neutrophil chemotaxis by leptin: crucial role for p38 and Src kinases.

Research paper by Fabrizio F Montecucco, Giordano G Bianchi, Paola P Gnerre, Maria M Bertolotto, Franco F Dallegri, Luciano L Ottonello

Indexed on: 21 Jul '06Published on: 21 Jul '06Published in: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences


Leptin is involved in energy homeostasis, hematopoiesis, inflammation, and immunity. Although hypoleptinemia characterizing malnutrition has been strictly related to increased susceptibility to infection, other hyperleptinemic conditions, such as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), are highly susceptible to bacterial infections. On the other hand, ESRD is characterized by neutrophil functional defects crucial for infectious morbidity, and several uremic toxins capable of depressing neutrophil functions have been identified. In the present study, we investigated leptin's effects on neutrophil function. Our results show that leptin inhibits neutrophil migration in response to classical chemoattractants. Otherwise, leptin is endowed with chemotactic activity toward neutrophils. The two activities, inhibition of the cell response to chemokines and stimulation of neutrophil migration, could be detected at similar concentrations. On the contrary, neutrophils exposed to leptin did not display detectable [Ca2+]i mobilization, oxidant production, or beta2-integrin upregulation. The results demonstrate that leptin is a pure chemoattractant devoid of secretagogue properties but capable of inhibiting neutrophil chemotaxis to classical neutrophilic chemoattractants. This effect is dependent on the activation of intracellular kinases involved in F-actin polymerization and neutrophil locomotion. Indeed, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Src kinase, but not extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK), were activated by short-term incubation with leptin. Moreover, p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580 and Src kinase inhibitor PP1, but not MEK inhibitor PD98059, blocked neutrophil chemotaxis toward leptin. Serum from patients with ESRD inhibits migration of normal neutrophils in response to N-formyl-methionine-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP) with a strict correlation between serum leptin levels and serum ability to suppress neutrophil locomotion. The serum inhibitory activity can be effectively prevented by immune-depletion of leptin. Taking into account the crucial role of neutrophils in host defense, we show that leptin-mediated ability of ERSD serum to inhibit neutrophil chemotaxis appears to be a mechanism contributing to neutrophil dysfunction in ESRD.