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Endocrinology. 2000 Nov;141(11):3946-55.

Down-regulated STAT3 messenger ribonucleic acid and STAT3 protein in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus of the obese leptin-deficient (ob/ob) mouse.

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Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Leptin is a weight-reducing hormone produced by adipose tissue, which reduces food intake via hypothalamic leptin receptors and the JAK-STAT signaling pathway. In vivo studies have shown that leptin activates specifically STAT3 in the hypothalamus. We have studied the cellular localization of STAT3 messenger RNA (mRNA) and STAT3 protein in the mouse mediobasal hypothalamus using, respectively, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Strong STAT3 mRNA and STAT3 immunoreactivity was demonstrated in neurons located in the ventral part of the mouse arcuate nucleus. Comparison of STAT3 mRNA levels in the arcuate nucleus of lean control mice and obese leptin-deficient ob/ob mice showed that the levels of STAT3 mRNA in the arcuate nucleus were significantly lower (31% less in ob/ob mice), compared with control mice. Hybridization with a probe specific for STAT3alpha mRNA showed that the down-regulated STAT3 expression in the arcuate nucleus of ob/ob mice is represented by STAT3alpha. There was a marked difference in numbers and intensity of STAT3-immunoreactive cell bodies, with virtually no STAT3-immunoreactive cell bodies in the mediobasal hypothalamus of ob/ob mice, compared with control mice. Direct double-labeling immunofluorescence histochemistry of sections from control mice, combining a goat antiserum raised against a peptide sequence present in all leptin receptor isoforms (Ob-R) or a guinea pig anti-serum generated to a peptide sequence specific for Ob-Rb with rabbit STAT3 antiserum, demonstrated colocalization of STAT3 and Ob-R as well as colocalization of STAT3 and Ob-Rb, in many cell bodies of the arcuate nucleus. The results suggest that circulating leptin acts via leptin receptor-/STAT3-containing neurons in the ventral arcuate nucleus and that congenital leptin deficiency, as seen in obese ob/ob mice, results in a down-regulation of STAT3 mRNA and protein levels.

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