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Diabetes. 2006 Apr;55(4):978-87.

Gonadal hormones determine sensitivity to central leptin and insulin.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati, PO Box 670559, Cincinatti, OH 45267-0559, USA.

Erratum in

  • Diabetes. 2007 Oct;56(10):2649. Dosage error in article text.


Males have proportionally more visceral fat and are more likely to develop complications associated with obesity than females, and the male brain is relatively more sensitive to the catabolic action of insulin and less sensitive to that of leptin than the female brain. To understand the underlying mechanism, we manipulated estrogen through ovariectomy (OVX) and estradiol administration. Rats with relatively high systemic estrogen (intact females and OVX females and males administered estrogen subcutaneously) were significantly more sensitive to leptin's anorexic action in the brain (i3vt), as well as significantly less sensitive to insulin's i3vt action, than intact males. Administering estradiol directly into the brain of our females increased i3vt leptin sensitivity while decreasing i3vt insulin sensitivity and changed the body fat distribution of our females to resemble that of intact females. These data indicate that estrogen acts within the brain to increase leptin sensitivity, decrease insulin sensitivity, and favor subcutaneous over visceral fat.

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