The effect of different doses of leptin, given as an intracerebroventricular (ICV) bolus, on body weight gain and food intake was investigated during refeeding, following a 24-h fast in lean (FA/fa) rats. It was observed that ICV leptin resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in body weight gain, compared with vehicle injection, a difference that persisted for at least 6 days. This was associated with a transient reduction in food intake over the first 2 days after leptin injection. More importantly, the effect of leptin was also observed in genetically obese fa/fa rats but at the expense of two to ten times higher leptin concentrations, indicating the presence of decreased leptin sensitivity. Furthermore, ICV leptin injections were able to decrease neuropeptide Y (NPY) levels in the arcuate and paraventricular hypothalamic nuclei in both lean and genetically obese fa/fa rats, although a higher leptin dose was again needed in the obese group. These observations provide further evidence for the implication of NPY and leptin in a regulatory loop controlling body homeostasis. This loop is functional in lean and genetically obese fa/fa rats, provided that leptin levels in the central nervous system are high enough in the obese group, in particular. Since human obesity is frequently associated with elevated circulating leptin levels, a state of decreased leptin sensitivity (i.e., leptin resistance), similar to that described here in fa/fa rats, could possibly occur in human syndromes as well.

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