Obesity results in increased secretion of cytokines from adipose tissue and is a risk factor for various cancers. Leptin is largely produced by adipose tissue and cancer cells. It induces cell proliferation and may serve to induce various cancers. OB3-leptin peptide (OB3) is a new class of functional leptin peptide. However, its mitogenic effect has not been determined. In the present study, because of a close link between leptin and the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis, OB3 was compared with leptin in different thyroid cancer cells for gene expression, proliferation and invasion. Neither agent stimulated cell proliferation. Leptin stimulated cell invasion, but reduced adhesion in anaplastic thyroid cancer cells. Activated ERK1/2 and STAT3 contributed to leptin-induced invasion. In contrast, OB3 did not affect expression of genes involved in proliferation and invasion. In vivo studies in the mouse showed that leptin, but not OB3, significantly increased circulating levels of thyrotropin (TSH), a growth factor for thyroid cancer. In summary, OB3 is a derivative of leptin that importantly lacks the mitogenic effects of leptin on thyroid cancer cells.
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