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Neuroendocrinology. 2000 Mar;71(3):187-95.

The long form of the leptin receptor (OB-Rb) is widely expressed in the human brain.

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Endocrine Research Unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., USA.


Leptin exerts important effects on the regulation of food intake and energy expenditure by acting in the brain. Leptin action is mediated by the interaction with a receptor that is alternatively spliced, resulting in at least five different isoforms. The long form (OB-Rb) has a long intracellular domain that is essential for intracellular signal transduction. The specific aim of this study was to further investigate the role that the brain may play in the pathogenesis of obesity in humans. We studied the expression of OB-R mRNA (both short or common and long isoforms) in the brains of obese, lean and diabetic subjects, by in situ hybridization, semiquantitative RT-PCR and Northern blots analysis. We used two alternative probes: one that recognizes all known splice variants (OB-Ra) and a second that recognizes only the long form, OB-Rb. Several brain regions, including hypothalamus, cerebellum, neocortex, entorrhinal cortex, amygdala, and rostral medulla, were evaluated. In situ hybridization studies revealed that both OB-Ra and OB-Rb mRNAs are widely distributed in the human brain. The specific hybridization signal with both probes was detected exclusively in the cytoplasm of the cell body, dendrites and proximal axons of neurons. Hypothalamic nuclei, Purkinje cells and dentate nuclei of the cerebellum, inferior olivary and cranial nerves nuclei in the medulla, amygdala and neurons from both neocortex and entorrhinal cortex demonstrated positive signals. The hybridization signal obtained in ependyma was lower than that in neurons and no specific hybridization was detected in glial cells. No significant differences were identified among the regions or among the three groups studied. These results match those previously obtained by us [Couce et al.: Neuroendocrinology 1997;66:145] in which the distribution of the OB-R protein in the human brain was first described. RT-PCR indicated that the OB-Rb was highly expressed in the hypothalamus and cerebellum. No significant differences of OB-Ra or OB-Rb mRNA expression were identified in lean or obese individuals in these two cerebral regions. The levels of OB-Rb were significantly higher in cerebellum compared to hypothalamus in lean and obese individuals. The original hypothesis that OB-Rb is present only in the hypothalamus needs to be reconsidered. This OB-Rb isoform seems to be widely expressed in the human brain with highest levels in the cerebellum. Obesity and hyperleptinemia appears not to be associated with down-regulation of the OB-Rb in the human brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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