Obesity is a worldwide epidemic problem and correlates to varieties of acute or chronic lung diseases such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pulmonary fibrosis. An increase of leptin, a kind of adipokine, in lean mice plasma has been found to impair immune responses and facilitate the infection of Klebsiella pneumoniae, resulting in increased pneumonia severity. Also, a higher leptin level is found in exhaled breath condensates of obese or asthmatic subjects, compared to healthy ones, suggesting that leptin is involved in the occurrence or exacerbation of lung injury. In previous studies, we showed that leptin stimulated cytosolic phospholipase A2-α (cPLA2α) gene expression in lung alveolar type II cells via mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB)-activated coactivator p300. Herein, we show that the in vivo application of leptin in the respiratory system upregulated the expression of inflammatory proteins cPLA2α and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) together with leukocyte infiltration. Treatment with an ROS scavenger (N-acetylcysteine, NAC), an NADPH oxidase inhibitor (apocynin), or an activating protein (AP)-1 inhibitor (tanshinone IIA) attenuated leptin-mediated cPLA2α/COX-2 expression and leukocyte recruitment in the lung. Leptin increased intracellular oxidative stress in a leptin receptor (OB-R) and NADPH oxidase-dependent manner, leading to the phosphorylation of the AP-1 subunit c-Jun. In summation, leptin increased lung cPLA2α/COX-2 expression and leukocyte recruitment via the NADPH oxidase/ROS/AP-1 pathway. Understanding the inflammatory effects of leptin on the pulmonary system provides opportunities to develop strategies against lung injury related to metabolic syndrome or obesity.
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