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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2003 Nov;285(5):R1011-20.

Central leptin gene therapy fails to overcome leptin resistance associated with diet-induced obesity.

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Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Dept. of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Gainesville, FL 32608-1197, USA.


The objective of this study was to determine if central overexpression of leptin could overcome the leptin resistance caused by 100 days of high-fat feeding. Three-month old-F344XBN male rats were fed either control low fat chow (Chow), which provides 15% of energy as fat, or a high-fat/high-sucrose diet (HF), which provides 59% of energy as fat. Over several weeks, the HF-fed animals spontaneously split into two groups of animals: those that became obese on the HF diet (DIO) and those that did not gain extra weight on the HF diet [diet resistant (DR)]. After 100 days of HF feeding, animals were given a single intracerebroventricular injection containing 5.75E10 particles of rAAV encoding leptin (rAAV-leptin) or control virus (rAAV-con). Chow animals responded robustly to rAAV-leptin, including significant anorexia, weight loss, and lipopenia. In contrast, DIO were completely unresponsive to rAAV-leptin. DR rats responded to rAAV-leptin, but in a more variable fashion than Chow. Unlike what was observed in Chow, the anorectic response to rAAV-leptin rapidly attenuated and was no longer significant by day 14 postvector delivery. Both DIO and DR animals were found to have reduced long-form leptin receptor expression and enhanced basal P-STAT-3 in the hypothalamus with respect to Chow. rAAV-leptin caused an increase in STAT3 phosphorylation and proopiomelanocortin expression in the hypothalamus and an increase in uncoupling protein-1 in brown adipose tissue in both Chow and DR animals, but failed to do so in DIO. This suggests that central overexpression of leptin is not a viable strategy to reverse diet-induced obesity.

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