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Neuroendocrinology. 2001 Jul;74(1):12-21.

A reassessment of leptin's role in triggering the onset of puberty in the rat and mouse.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that has been implicated to serve as a metabolic signal to the reproductive axis. The role of leptin in pubertal maturation, however, has been a much-debated topic. We have previously reported that leptin serves as a permissive signal to the onset of puberty in the female rat. In an attempt to further understand the mechanics of leptin during pubertal maturation in rodent species, we had three experimental objectives: first, to describe the temporal relationship of leptin with development in the male and female rat; second, to seek evidence for an increase in responsiveness of the neuroendocrine axis to leptin by assessing for possible changes in leptin receptor expression during pubertal developmental in the female rat; and, third, to reevaluate the possible role of leptin as a permissive signal to the onset of puberty in the mouse. We found that serum leptin levels remain relatively constant during the prepubertal and postpubertal stages of both sexes. In addition, we could not detect any significant developmental changes in leptin receptor gene expression in the hypothalamus of the female rat. Lastly, we corroborated our findings in the female rat that leptin reversed the delay in pubertal maturation secondary to food restriction but did not advance the onset of puberty in female mice. Together, these results suggest that leptin is not a metabolic trigger for the onset of puberty in the rodent; instead, leptin is one of several permissive factors, whose presence may be necessary but alone is not sufficient to initiate sexual maturation in these species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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