Leptin receptor gene expression and number in the brain are regulated by leptin level and nutritional status

Sharon E. Mitchell, Ruben Nogueiras, Amanda Morris, Sulay Tovar, Christine Grant, Morven Cruickshank, D. Vernon Rayner, Carlos Dieguez, Lynda M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Hormone potency depends on receptor availability, regulated via gene expression and receptor trafficking. To ascertain how central leptin receptors are regulated, the effects of leptin challenge, high-fat diet, fasting and refeeding were measured on leptin receptor number and gene expression. These were measured using quantitative I-125-labelled leptin in vitro autoradiography and in situ hybridisation, respectively. Ob-R (all forms of leptin receptor) expression in the choroid plexus (CP) was unchanged by high-fat diet or leptin challenge, whereas fasting increased but refeeding failed to decrease expression. I-125-labelled leptin binding to the CP was increased by fasting and returned to basal levels on refeeding. I-125-Labelled leptin was reduced by leptin challenge and increased by high-fat feeding. Ob-Rb (signalling form) in the arcuate (ARC) and ventromedial (VMH) nuclei was increased after fasting and decreased by refeeding. Leptin challenge increased Ob-Rb expression in the ARC, but not after high-fat feeding. In general, changes in gene expression in the ARC and VMH appeared to be largely due to changes in area rather than density of labelling, indicating that the number of cells expressing Ob-Rb was the parameter that contributed most to these changes. Leptin stimulation of suppressor of cytokine signalling 3 (SOCS3), a marker of stimulation of the Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (JAK/STAT3) pathway, was unchanged after high-fat diet. Thus, early loss of leptin sensitivity after high-fat feeding is unrelated to down-regulation of leptin receptor expression or number and does not involve the JAK/STAT pathway. The effect of leptin to decrease I-125-labelled leptin binding and the loss of ability of leptin to up-regulate Ob-Rb expression in the ARC after high-fat feeding offer potential mechanisms for the development of leptin insensitivity in response to both hyperleptinaemia and high-fat diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3573-3585
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number14
Early online date14 Jul 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


  • diet-induced obesity
  • body-weight regulation
  • high-fat diet
  • messenger-RNA
  • arcuate nucleus
  • rat-brain
  • long-form
  • hypothalamic leptin
  • signaling capacity
  • siberian hamster


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