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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Oct 24;97(22):12339-44.

A metabolic defect promotes obesity in mice lacking melanocortin-4 receptors.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington, Box 357370, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Melanocortin-4 receptor (Mc4r)-null mice exhibit late-onset obesity. To determine whether aberrant metabolism contributes to the obesity, food consumption by Mc4r-null mice was restricted to (pair-fed to) that consumed by wild-type (WT) mice. Pair-fed Mc4r-null females maintained body weights intermediate to that of WT and nonpair-fed Mc4r-null females, whereas pairfeeding normalized the body weights of Mc4r-null male mice. Fat pad and circulating leptin levels were elevated in both male and female pair-fed Mc4r-null mice compared with WT mice. Oxygen consumption of Mc4r-null mice with similar body weights as WT controls was reduced by 20%. Locomotor activity of young nonobese Mc4r-null males was significantly lower than that of WT males; however, locomotion of young nonobese females was normal. Core body temperature of Mc4r-null mice was normal, and they responded normally to cold exposure. Young nonobese Mc4r-null females were unable to induce uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in brown adipose tissue in response to peripheral leptin administration, whereas UCP1 mRNA was increased by 60% in the WT females. These results indicate that Mc4r deficiency enhances caloric efficiency, similar to that seen in the agouti obesity syndrome and in melanocortin-3 receptor-null mice.

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