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Neuropharmacology. 2011 Feb-Mar;60(2-3):480-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2010.11.002. Epub 2010 Nov 5.

Region-specific diet-induced and leptin-induced cellular leptin resistance includes the ventral tegmental area in rats.

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Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Florida, College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.


Diet-induced obesity (DIO) results in region-specific cellular leptin resistance in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of the hypothalamus in one strain of mice and in several medial basal hypothalamic regions in another. We hypothesized that the ventral tegmental area (VTA) is also likely susceptible to diet-induced and leptin-induced leptin resistance in parallel to that in hypothalamic areas. We examined two forms of leptin resistance in F344xBN rats, that induced by 6-months of high fat (HF) feeding and that induced by 15-months of central leptin overexpression by use of recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV)-mediated gene delivery of rat leptin. Cellular leptin resistance was assessed by leptin-stimulated phosphorylation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) in medial basal hypothalamic areas and the VTA. The regional pattern and degree of leptin resistance with HF was distinctly different than that with leptin overexpression. Chronic HF feeding induced a cellular leptin resistance that was identified in the ARC and VTA, but absent in the lateral hypothalamus (LH), ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH), and dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH). In contrast, chronic central leptin overexpression induced cellular leptin resistance in all areas examined. The identification of leptin resistance in the VTA, in addition to the leptin resistance in the hypothalamus, provides one potential mechanism, underlying the increased susceptibility of leptin resistant rats to HF-induced obesity.

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