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Is leptin resistance the cause or the consequence of diet-induced obesity?

Journal article
Authors K. C. G. de Git
C. Peterse
S. Beerens
M. C. M. Luijendijk
G. van der Plasse
S. E. la Fleur
Roger A. H. Adan
Published in International Journal of Obesity
Volume 42
Issue 8
Pages 1445-1457
ISSN 0307-0565
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Pages 1445-1457
Language en
Keywords receptor messenger-rna, dorsomedial hypothalamus, signal transducer, arcuate nucleus, body-weight, rats, brain, fat, neurons, sensitivity, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Nutrition & Dietetics, effens ab, 1969, physiology & behavior, v4, p833
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


Background/objectives Obesity is strongly associated with leptin resistance. It is unclear whether leptin resistance results from the (over) consumption of energy-dense diets or if reduced leptin sensitivity is also a pre-existing factor in rodent models of diet-induced obesity (DIO). We here tested whether leptin sensitivity on a chow diet predicts subsequent weight gain and leptin sensitivity on a free choice high-fat high-sucrose (fcHFHS) diet. Methods Based upon individual leptin sensitivity on chow diet, rats were grouped in leptin sensitive (LS, n = 22) and leptin resistant (LR, n = 19) rats (P = 0.000), and the development of DIO on a fcHFHS diet was compared. The time-course of leptin sensitivity was measured over weeks in individual rats. Results Both on a chow and a fcHFHS diet, high variability in leptin sensitivity was observed between rats, but not over time per individual rat. Exposure to the fcHFHS diet revealed that LR rats were more prone to develop DIO (P = 0.013), which was independent of caloric intake (p >= 0.320) and the development of diet-induced leptin resistance (P = 0.769). Reduced leptin sensitivity in LR compared with LS rats before fcHFHS diet exposure, was associated with reduced leptin-induced phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (pSTAT3) levels in the dorsomedial and ventromedial hypothalamus (P <= 0.049), but not the arcuate nucleus (P = 0.558). Conclusions A pre-existing reduction in leptin sensitivity determines the susceptibility to develop excessive DIO after fcHFHS diet exposure. Rats with a pre-existing reduction in leptin sensitivity develop excessive DIO without eating more calories or altering their leptin sensitivity.

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