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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Jul;285(1):E10-5. Epub 2003 Mar 4.

Impaired transport of leptin across the blood-brain barrier in obesity is acquired and reversible.

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Geriatrics Research, Educational, and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Medical Center-St. Louis, 63106, USA.


Leptin resistance is a major cause of obesity in humans. A major component of this resistance is likely an impaired transport of leptin across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The fattest subgroup of otherwise normal 12-mo-old CD-1 mice have severely impaired transport of leptin across the BBB. However, it is unknown whether these mice are born with a BBB impairment or acquire it with aging and obesity. Here, we found within an otherwise normal population of CD-1 mice that the 10% fattest mice gained weight throughout a 12-mo-life span, whereas the 10% thinnest mice gained little weight after 3 mo of age. The fattest mice acquired a progressive impairment in their ability to transport leptin across the BBB, whereas the thinnest mice had a rate of transport that did not change with age. Fasting fat mice for 24 h or treating them with leptin resulted in modest weight reduction and development of transport rates for leptin across the BBB similar to those of thin mice. These results show that, in obese CD-1 mice, the impaired transport of leptin across the BBB develops in tandem with obesity and is reversible with even modest weight reduction.

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