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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Aug 5;94(16):8878-83.

Physiological response to long-term peripheral and central leptin infusion in lean and obese mice.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY, 10021, USA.


Recent data have identified leptin as an afferent signal in a negative-feedback loop regulating the mass of the adipose tissue. High leptin levels are observed in obese humans and rodents, suggesting that, in some cases, obesity is the result of leptin insensitivity. This hypothesis was tested by comparing the response to peripherally and centrally administered leptin among lean and three obese strains of mice: diet-induced obese AKR/J, New Zealand Obese (NZO), and Ay. Subcutaneous leptin infusion to lean mice resulted in a dose-dependent loss of body weight at physiologic plasma levels. Chronic infusions of leptin intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v.) at doses of 3 ng/hr or greater resulted in complete depletion of visible adipose tissue, which was maintained throughout 30 days of continuous i.c.v. infusion. Direct measurement of energy balance indicated that leptin treatment did not increase total energy expenditure but prevented the decrease that follows reduced food intake. Diet-induced obese mice lost weight in response to peripheral leptin but were less sensitive than lean mice. NZO mice were unresponsive to peripheral leptin but were responsive to i.c.v. leptin. Ay mice did not respond to subcutaneous leptin and were 1/100 as sensitive to i.c.v. leptin. The decreased response to leptin in diet-induced obese, NZO, and Ay mice suggests that obesity in these strains is the result of leptin resistance. In NZO mice, leptin resistance may be the result of decreased transport of leptin into the cerebrospinal fluid, whereas in Ay mice, leptin resistance probably results from defects downstream of the leptin receptor in the hypothalamus.

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