The mechanisms underlying the increase in energy expenditure during leptin treatment are not clear. We recently showed that a 5-h intravenous or intracerebroventricular infusion of leptin elevated basal glucose uptake in skeletal muscle (SM) and brown adipose tissue and increased whole-body glucose turnover in C57Bl/6J mice (Kamohara S, Burcelin R, Halaas JL, Friedman JM, Charron MJ: Acute stimulation of glucose metabolism in mice by leptin treatment. Nature 389:374-377, 1997). We extended the previous study by measuring steady-state levels of uncoupling protein (UCP)-2 mRNA and UCP-3 mRNA in white adipose tissue (WAT) and SM. Leptin by intravenous or intracerebroventricular infusion for 5 h was associated with a decrease in UCP-2 mRNA in WAT (47-52%) and UCP-3 mRNA in SM (33-37%). Because overexpression of UCP-2 or UCP-3 can depolarize the inner mitochondrial membrane, suppression of UCP-2 mRNA and UCP-3 mRNA may in fact lower respiratory demands in WAT and SM. This is consistent with the parallel suppression of cytochrome oxidase subunit IV (COX-IV) mRNA in WAT (35-39%) after leptin infusion. COX-IV mRNA in SM did not respond to acute leptin treatment. Mitochondrial inorganic phosphate carrier (P1C) mRNA was also suppressed in WAT (33-35%) by either method of leptin infusion, but only intravenous infusion of leptin reduced P1C mRNA in SM (40%). Denervation suppressed mRNA levels for UCP-2 (49%), UCP-3 (36%), and COX-IV (59%) and eliminated the acute response to leptin in SM. The comparable response to leptin under intravenous or intracerebroventricular infusion and the loss of responsiveness after denervation strongly suggest that the acute effects of leptin involve central signaling pathways.

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