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Endocrinology. 2007 Jan;148(1):310-6. Epub 2006 Oct 5.

Altered hypothalamic leptin, insulin, and melanocortin binding associated with moderate-fat diet and predisposition to obesity.

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Department of Neurology, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, USA.


Rats with a genetic predisposition to develop diet-induced obesity (DIO) have a preexisting reduction in central leptin and insulin sensitivity. High-fat diets also reduce sensitivity to leptin, insulin, and melanocortin agonists. We postulated that such reduced sensitivities would be associated with decreased binding to the hypothalamic leptin, insulin, and melanocortin receptors in selectively bred DIO rats and in rats fed a high-energy (HE; 31% fat) diet for 7 wk. On HE diet, DIO rats gained 15% more weight and had 121% heavier fat pads and 70% higher leptin levels than low fat chow-fed DIO rats. Diet-resistant (DR) rats gained no more weight on HE diet but had 48% heavier fat pads and 70% higher leptin levels than chow-fed DR rats. Compared with DR rats, DIO (125)I-leptin binding was 41, 36, and 40% lower in the hypothalamic dorsomedial, arcuate, and dorsomedial portion of the ventromedial nuclei, respectively, and arcuate (125)I-insulin binding was 31% lower independent of diet. In contrast, hypothalamic melanocortin binding did not differ between DIO and DR rats. However, HE diet intake lowered lateral hypothalamic melanocortin-3 and melanocortin-4 receptor and hippocampal insulin binding of both DIO and DR rats and hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus melanocortin-4 receptor binding only in DR rats. Neither genotype nor diet affected substantia nigra or ventral tegmental area binding. These results corroborate our previous findings demonstrating a preexisting decrease in DIO hypothalamic leptin and insulin signaling and demonstrate that HE diet intake reduces hypothalamic melanocortin and hippocampal insulin binding.

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