Synergy of sibutramine and low-dose leptin in treatment of diet-induced obesity in rats

Metabolism. 2001 Aug;50(8):889-93. doi: 10.1053/meta.2001.24917.


Tachyphylaxis to the effects of anorexigenic agents, such as sibutramine (S), may be due, in part, to counterregulatory decreases in energy expenditure (EE) and increases in hunger that result from reduced circulating leptin (L) due to loss of body fat and lowered L production/adipocyte. The present study was conducted to test the hypothesis that L administered at low doses sufficient to restore ambient L to preweight loss concentrations would enhance the intercurrent efficacy of S by reducing the strength of physiologic counterregulation to weight loss. Forty male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a high-fat (HF) diet (45% energy) to induce obesity. After 8 weeks, the obese rats (600 +/- 58 g) were weight-matched into 4 groups (N = 8/group) and implanted subcutaneously (SC) with 2 mL, 7-day Alzet mini-pumps that provided: vehicle (V, saline), L (0.5 mg/kg/d), S (3 mg/kg/d), or L+S. Food intake (FI) on the HF diet was measured daily. On day 7, 24-hour EE was measured by indirect calorimetry, and the animals then killed for body composition analysis. Compared with vehicle, treatment with S alone, but not L alone, produced significant weight loss (-23 +/- 26 v -6 +/- 16 g, P <.01). L alone, or with S, increased fat oxidation (decreased respiratory quotient [RQ]) compared with V (P <.05). The lack of decline in EE with S may be due to its documented effect to stimulate thermogenesis. Administration of L with S synergistically decreased FI and increased weight loss and fractional fat loss. A reduction in plasma L concentration may contribute to the "plateau phenomenon" observed in studies of weight loss therapies. Replacement doses of L during S administration increased weight loss and fractional fat loss by (1) decreasing food intake and (2) by increasing fat oxidation. Such drug combinations may be useful in the treatment of human obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Cyclobutanes / pharmacology*
  • Diet*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Leptin / administration & dosage
  • Leptin / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Cyclobutanes
  • Leptin
  • sibutramine