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J Physiol Biochem. 2009 Mar;65(1):1-9.

High fat diet-induced obesity modifies the methylation pattern of leptin promoter in rats.

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Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Physiology and Toxicology, University of Navarra, Spain.


Leptin is an adipokine involved in body weight and food intake regulation whose promoter region presents CpG islands that could be subject to dynamic methylation. This methylation process could be affected by environmental (e.g. diet) or endogenous (e.g., adipocyte differentiation, inflammation, hypoxia) factors, and could influence adipocyte leptin gene expression. The aim of this article was to study whether a high-energy diet may affect leptin gene promoter methylation in rats. A group of eleven male Wistar rats were assigned into two dietary groups, one fed on a control diet for 11 weeks and the other on a high-fat cafeteria diet. Rats fed a high-energy diet become overweight and hyperleptinemic as compared to the controls. DNA isolated from retroperitoneal adipocytes was treated with bisulfite and a distal portion of leptin promoter (from -694 to -372 bp) including 13 CpG sites was amplified by PCR and sequenced. The studied promoter portion was slightly more methylated in the cafeteria-fed animals, which was statistically significant (p < 0.05) for one of the CpG sites (located at the position -443). In obese rats, such methylation was associated to lower circulating leptin levels, suggesting that this position could be important in the regulation of leptin gene expression, probably by being a target sequence of different transcription factors. Our findings reveal, for the first time, that leptin methylation pattern can be influenced by diet-induced obesity, and suggest that epigenetic mechanisms could be involved in obesity by regulating the expression of important epiobesigenic genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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