We have shown previously that continuous (6 days) intracerebroventricular (ICV) leptin infusion in normal rats resulted in decreases in food intake and body weight. A reduction of food intake imposed on control rats (pair-feeding), aimed at mimicking leptin-induced hyperphagia, produced a marked decrease in the expression of muscle uncoupling protein-3 (UCP-3), whereas ICV infusion of leptin prevented such a decrease in UCP-3. To investigate an involvement of thyroid hormones in this effect of leptin, plasma levels of these hormones were determined in ICV leptin-infused, ICV vehicle-infused ad libitum fed or pair-fed controls. ICV leptin infusion and pair-feeding resulted in decreased plasma thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and T4 levels relative to ad libitum fed controls. ICV leptin infusion maintained plasma levels of T3, but the levels were decreased by pair-feeding. The activity of the enzyme (hepatic 5'-monodeiodinase) responsible for T4/T3 conversion was measured. In the leptin-infused group, the activity of 5'-monodeiodinase was maintained at the values measured in ad libitum fed rats; in pair-fed rats, activity was reduced. Thus, conversion of T4 to T3 is decreased by pair-feeding, whereas such is not the case during leptin infusion. To further substantiate an involvement of thyroid hormones in the effect of leptin on muscle UCP-3 expression, hypothyroid rats were ICV infused with leptin or vehicle. It was observed that in hypothyroid rats, ICV leptin was unable to maintain muscle UCP-3 expression at values measured in ad libitum fed controls. These results suggest that central leptin stimulates T3 production via an activation of T4 to T3 conversion, and that this stimulation could be responsible for the effect of leptin on muscle UCP-3 expression. Thyroid hormones could thus be important mediators of the effect of leptin on energy expenditure.

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