Differential physiological responses to central leptin overexpression in male and female rats

Academic Article


  • Brains of females are more sensitive to the acute catabolic actions of leptin. However, sex differences in the long-term physiological responses to central leptin receptor modulation are unknown. Accordingly, we centrally delivered a viral vector to overexpress leptin (Leptin), a neutral leptin receptor antagonist (Leptin-Antagonist) or a green fluorescence protein (GFP) (Control). We examined chronic changes in body weight and composition in male and female rats. Females displayed greater and sustained responses to Leptin, whereas males rapidly lost physiological effects and developed leptin resistance as confirmed by lower acute leptin-mediated phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (P-STAT3). Surprisingly, despite persistent physiological responses, Leptin-females also exhibited reduced acute leptin-mediated P-STAT3, suggesting an onset of leptin resistance near time of death. In line with this interpretation, Leptin-females and Control-females consumed the same amount of food on the last day of the experiment. Both Leptin-Antagonist groups gained similar percentages of their initial body weight and fat mass, whereas only Leptin-Antagonist-females gained lean body mass. Consequently, the lean/fat mass ratio with Leptin-Antagonist was preserved in females and decreased in males, suggesting a deterioration of body composition in males. In summary, the present study establishes that females are more responsive to long-term central leptin overexpression than males and that leptin antagonism has a greater physiological impact in males. The hormone environment may have played a role in these processes; however, future studies are needed to establish whether such physiological responses are mediated by female or male sex hormones.
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    Author List

  • Côté I; Green SM; Toklu HZ; Morgan D; Carter CS; Tümer N; Scarpace PJ
  • Volume

  • 29
  • Issue

  • 12