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J Dootsch, W Rascher and U Meissner

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J Dotsch, U Meissner and W Rascher

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J Dosch, U Meissner and W Rascher

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W Kiess, M Anil, WF Blum, P Englaro, A Juul, A Attanasio, J Dotsch and W Rascher

The ob protein, termed leptin, is produced by adipocytes and is thought to act as an afferent satiety signal regulating weight through suppressing appetite and stimulating energy expenditure in humans and/or rodents. Insulin has been found to be a potent stimulator of leptin expression in rodents. It is unclear at present whether this insulin action is a direct or an indirect effect. To investigate whether leptin concentrations in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes (IDDM) were related to metabolic status, body weight, body mass index and insulin treatment, we have measured leptin concentrations in serum from 13 newly diagnosed IDDM patients before the beginning of insulin treatment (8 girls, 5 boys, aged 4.7-17.5 years) and in 134 patients with IDDM during treatment (64 girls, 70 boys, aged 2.6-20.1 years) using a specific radioimmunoassay. The data from patients with diabetes were compared with normative data that were derived from a large cohort of healthy children and adolescents. Serum from children with newly diagnosed diabetes had significantly lower levels of leptin (mean 1.28+/-1.60 ng/ml, range 0.14-6.13 ng/ml) compared with healthy children (n=710) (mean 2.2 ng/ml, range 0.26-14.4ng/ml) and compared with insulin-treated children and adolescents (mean 5.18+/-5.48 ng/ml, range 0.26-29.77 ng/ml) (P<0.0001) even after adjustment for gender and body mass index (BMI). Serum leptin levels in patients with IDDM were significantly correlated with BMI (r=0.42, P<0.0001). Multiple regression analysis showed that age and BMI were significantly correlated with leptin levels, while duration of diabetes, mean HbA1c levels, insulin dose and plasma glucose, triglyceride and cholesterol levels were not. Females had higher serum leptin concentrations than males even when adjusted for BMI (P<0.0001). Surprisingly and most importantly, leptin levels in insulin-treated young adult (Tanner stage 5) patients were significantly higher than values found in the healthy nondiabetic reference population when adjusted for sex, Tanner stage and BMI. These findings suggest that leptin levels in IDDM patients show a similar dependency on adipose tissue and age as in healthy, normal children. The data provide evidence that insulin may be of importance as a regulator of serum leptin levels in vivo not only in rodents but also in humans. It is hypothesized that the elevated BMI-adjusted leptin levels in adolescents with IDDM could indicate either that these patients may be oversubstituted by the intensified insulin therapy that they are receiving or that their body composition and body fat content may differ from that of healthy adolescents in the sense that they have a relative increase in fat mass.

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E Schoof, M Girstl, W Frobenius, M Kirschbaum, R Repp, I Knerr, W Rascher and J Dotsch

BACKGROUND: During human pregnancy, 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11beta-HSD2) plays an important role in protecting the fetus from high maternal glucocorticoid concentrations by converting cortisol to inactive cortisone. Furthermore, 11beta-HSD2 is indirectly involved in the regulation of the prostaglandin inactivating enzyme 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (PGDH), because cortisol reduces the gene expression and enzyme activity of PGDH in human placental cells. OBJECTIVE: To examine developmental changes in placental 11beta-HSD2 and PGDH gene expression during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of human pregnancies. METHODS: In placental tissue taken from 20 healthy women with normal pregnancy and 20 placentas of 17 mothers giving birth to premature babies, 11beta-HSD2 and PGDH mRNA expression was determined using quantitative real-time PCR. RESULTS: Placental mRNA expression of 11beta-HSD2 and PGDH increased significantly with gestational age (r=0.55, P=0.0002 and r=0.42, P=0.007). In addition, there was a significant correlation between the two enzymes (r=0.58, P<0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: In the course of pregnancy there is an increase in 11beta-HSD2 and PGDH mRNA expression in human placental tissue. This adaptation of 11beta-HSD2 prevents increasing maternal cortisol concentrations from transplacental passage and is exerted at the gene level. 11beta-HSD2 up-regulation may also lead to an increase in PGDH mRNA concentrations that, until term, possibly delays myometrial contractions induced by prostaglandins.

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E Schoof, A Stuppy, F Harig, R Carbon, T Horbach, W Stohr, W Rascher and J Dotsch

OBJECTIVE: Adipose tissue displays depot-specific metabolic properties and a predominant gene expression of leptin in subcutaneous tissue. The aim of the study was to evaluate leptin mRNA expression in various adipose tissues and to relate it to plasma leptin concentrations. Furthermore, developmental changes in leptin gene expression from childhood to adulthood were examined. DESIGN AND METHODS: Thoracic subcutaneous and intrathoracic adipose tissue specimens were obtained in 22 adults (51-81 years) and 23 children (0.1-17 years) undergoing cardiac surgery, and abdominal subcutaneous, omental and mesenterial fat specimens were collected from 21 adults (38-79 years) and 22 children (0.2-17 years) before abdominal surgery. Preoperative plasma leptin concentrations were measured by RIA. Leptin mRNA expression was quantified by TaqMan real-time PCR. RESULTS: In adults, there was no difference between leptin gene expression in subcutaneous and intrathoracic fat, whereas in children leptin mRNA expression was significantly higher in subcutaneous adipose tissue. In omental fat, leptin mRNA levels were significantly lower compared with subcutaneous and mesenterial sites in both children and adults. Adults revealed a significantly higher leptin gene expression in subcutaneous, omental and mesenterial adipose tissues than children. Subcutaneous and omental leptin gene expression are independent factors for plasma leptin concentrations in children and adults. CONCLUSION: Leptin is differentially expressed at different adipose tissue sites, a situation which is even more pronounced in children. There is a developmental increase in leptin mRNA expression in adipose tissue during childhood, reaching maximal capacity in adulthood.

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G. Bonner, W. Rascher, G. Speck, M. Marin-Grez and F. Gross


The activity of the renal kallikrein-kinin system was investigated in male Brattleboro rats homozygous for hypothalamic diabetes insipidus (DI); LongEvans rats (LE) were taken as controls. In the rats with DI, urinary kallikrein excretion was lower (P < 0.05) than in the LE rats. However, when related to total renal mass or to body weight, there was no difference between the two strains. Kallikrein activity in the renal cortex was similar in the Brattleboro and the LE rats.

Antidiuretic hormone (vasopressin tannate) in a dose of 100 mU given once daily for 3 days had no effect on urinary kallikrein excretion in either of the strains. Water deprivation for 24 h resulted, also in both strains, in a similar reduction in urinary kallikrein excretion.

The renal kallikrein-kinin system of LE rats and that of DI rats does not principally differ in basic activity, nor in response to the administration of vasopressin, nor to water deprivation.

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H Norrelund, CH Gravholt, P Englaro, WF Blum, W Rascher, JS Chistiansen and JO Jorgensen

The regulation of leptin production in humans is poorly understood but appears to depend on total body fat, changes in energy intake and insulin levels. Since growth hormone (GH) is an important regulator of both lipid metabolism and insulin secretion and action, we tested whether GH status directly or indirectly regulates leptin secretion. Circadian serum leptin concentrations were measured in GH-deficient patients in two different protocols involving different modes of acute and prolonged GH exposure. In study I, eight GH-deficient patients all underwent three 4 week study periods in random order: (1) evening (2000 h) s.c. GH injections (2 IU); (2) morning (0800 h) s.c. GH injections (2 IU); (3) no GH administration. At the end of each period the patients were admitted to hospital for 24-h measurements of hormones and metabolites. For comparison, 10 age- and sex-matched healthy untreated subjects were hospitalised under identical conditions. In study II, six GH-deficient patients were hospitalised for 44 h on three occasions, separated by at least 4 weeks without GH treatment. On each occasion they received 2 IU GH, administered i.v. as (1) two boluses (at 2000 and 0200 h), (2) eight boluses (at 3 h intervals starting at 2000 h) or (3) a continuous (2000-2000 h) infusion. In both studies, serum leptin levels peaked between midnight and early morning followed by low day-time levels (P < 0.01). The mode of GH treatment or previous discontinuation did not affect the leptin level (P > 0.05), but the patients had significantly higher leptin levels than the controls (P < 0.01). The diurnal variation in leptin was compared with changes in GH, insulin, non-esterified fatty acids, 3-hydroxybutyrate, insulin-like growth factor I and glucose, but no robust cross-correlations could be demonstrated. The following conclusions were made. (1) The circadian pattern of serum leptin is not influenced by either experimental or spontaneous changes in serum GH concentrations. (2) GH deficiency is associated with elevated leptin levels which most likely reflects increased fat mass in these patients.