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J Neuroendocrinol. 2012 Mar;24(3):504-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2011.02257.x.

Cardiovascular actions of leptin in the subfornical organ are abolished by diet-induced obesity.

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Department of Physiology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


The subfornical organ (SFO), a sensory circumventricular organ lacking the normal blood-brain barrier with well documented roles in cardiovascular regulation, has recently been identified as a potential site at which the adipokine, leptin, may act to influence central autonomic pathways. Systemic and central leptin administration has been shown to increase blood pressure and it has been suggested that selective leptin resistance contributes to obesity-related hypertension. Given the relationship between obesity and hypertension, the present study aimed to investigate the cardiovascular consequences of the direct administration of leptin into the SFO of young lean rats and in the diet-induced obesity (DIO) rat model, which has been shown to be leptin-resistant. Leptin administration (500 fmol) directly into the SFO of young rats resulted in rapid decreases in blood pressure (BP) [mean area under the curve (AUC) = -677.8 ± 167.1 mmHg*s; n = 9], without an effect on heart rate (mean AUC = -21.2 ± 13.4 beats; n = 9), and these effects were found to be dose-related as microinjection of 5 pmol of leptin into the SFO had a larger effect on BP (mean AUC = -972.3 ± 280.1 mmHg*s; n = 4). These BP effects were also shown to be site-specific as microinjection of leptin into non-SFO regions or into the ventricle was without effect on BP (non-SFO: mean AUC = -22.4 ± 55.3 mmHg*s; n = 4; ventricle: mean AUC = 194.0 ± 173.0 mmHg*s; n = 6). By contrast, microinjection of leptin into leptin-resistant DIO rats was without effect on BP (mean AUC = 205.2 ± 75.1 mmHg*s; n = 4). These observations suggest that the SFO may be an important relay centre through which leptin, in normal weight, leptin responsive rats, acts to maintain BP within normal physiological limits through descending autonomic pathways involved in cardiovascular control and that, in obese, leptin-resistant, rats leptin no longer influences SFO neurones, resulting in an elevated BP, thus contributing to obesity-related hypertension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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