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Diabetes. 2003 Mar;52(3):682-7.

Differential sensitivity to central leptin and insulin in male and female rats.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0559, USA.


The distribution of fat in the body differs between the male and female sexes and is associated with the relative secretion of the two "adiposity" hormones leptin and insulin. We now report that the brains of male and female rats are differentially sensitive to the catabolic actions of small doses of these two hormones. Leptin (1 or 3.5 microg/2 microl) or saline (2 microl) was administered into the third cerebral ventricle of age- and weight-matched male and female rats. Leptin significantly reduced food intake in female and male rats over 4 h; however, leptin reduced 24-h intake in female but not in male rats. When the same rats were administered insulin (1 or 4 mU/2 microl) or saline (2 microl), male but not female rats had a robust reduction in food intake over 24 h. Previous research demonstrates the melanocortins are a central mediator of the effects of both leptin and insulin. However, we found no sex differences in sensitivity to the melanocortin agonist MTII (0.01, 0.1, 0.3, and 1.0 nmol/2 microl). These results suggest that the sex differences in sensitivity to leptin and insulin at the doses that we injected occur upstream of the melanocortin receptors. Because insulin and leptin reflect different fat beds and are differentially distributed in the male and female sexes, the implication is that the male and female sexes regulate adiposity-relevant parameters differently.

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