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J Endocrinol. 2001 Oct;171(1):23-32.

Decreased leptin uptake in hypothalamic nuclei with ageing in Wistar rats.

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Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain.


Leptin interacts with specific receptors in hypothalamic nuclei and modulates energy balance. Growing evidence has shown the association of obesity and hyperleptinaemia with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. The aged Wistar rat shows peripheral insulin resistance in the absence of obesity and alterations of glucose homeostasis. However, it is not known whether, in these animals, the leptin action is altered. Here we studied the effect of ageing on plasma leptin concentration and the ability of hypothalamic nuclei to capture i.c.v.-injected digoxigenin-labelled leptin. Our data indicate that 24-month-old animals are hyperleptinaemic. However, daily food intake was greater in old animals, suggesting that they are leptin resistant. Leptin uptake in the hypothalamus was reduced in old rats. This uptake was a receptor-mediated process as demonstrated by displacement. Leptin accumulation in hypothalamic nuclei was partially colocalized with neuropeptide Y fibres. Immunohistochemical and western blot analyses showed a lower amount of the long form of leptin receptors in the hypothalamus of aged rats. Analysis by RT-PCR also demonstrated a decreased expression of leptin receptor mRNA in old animals. We conclude that the lower leptin uptake may be explained, at least in part, by a decreased amount of receptors in hypothalamic neurones of the aged rats.

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