Partial leptin reduction can induce significant weight loss, while weight loss contributes to partial leptin reduction. The cause-and-effect relationship between leptin reduction and weight loss remains to be further elucidated. Here, we show that FGF21 and the glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonist liraglutide rapidly induced a reduction in leptin. This leptin reduction contributed to the beneficial effects of GLP-1R agonism in metabolic health, as transgenically maintaining leptin levels during treatment partially curtailed the beneficial effects seen with these agonists. Moreover, a higher degree of leptin reduction during treatment, induced by including a leptin neutralizing antibody with either FGF21 or liraglutide, synergistically induced greater weight loss and better glucose tolerance in diet-induced obese mice. Furthermore, upon cessation of either liraglutide or FGF21 treatment, the expected immediate weight regain was observed, associated with a rapid increase in circulating leptin levels. Prevention of this leptin surge with leptin neutralizing antibodies slowed down weight gain and preserved better glucose tolerance. Mechanistically, a significant reduction in leptin induced a higher degree of leptin sensitivity in hypothalamic neurons. Our observations support a model that postulates that a reduction of leptin levels is a necessary prerequisite for substantial weight loss, and partial leptin reduction is a viable strategy to treat obesity and its associated insulin resistance.
Weight loss agents in the glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor and FGF21 group induced a rapid suppression of leptin immediately upon agonist exposure.
This leptin suppression significantly contributed to the weight loss.
Further leptin suppression with a leptin neutralizing antibody enhanced weight loss and further improved insulin sensitivity.
Enhanced leptin reduction leads to further reduction in hepatic steatosis and fibrosis.
This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.24498310.