Hypothalamic leptin receptor and signaling molecule expressions in cafeteria diet-fed rats

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2003 Nov;307(2):544-9. doi: 10.1124/jpet.103.054726. Epub 2003 Sep 9.


Although obesity is associated with a state of leptin resistance, it has been suggested that leptin may contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity-related hypertension. In previous studies, we reported that cafeteria diet feeding induces hyperleptinaemia and hyperinsulinemia in both male and female rats, with hypertension occurring only in male rats. However, when female rats were neonatally treated with testosterone (T), these animals develop hypertension when fed the cafeteria diet. These observations led us to investigate leptin signaling and some neuropeptides that are leptin targets in the hypothalamus of male, intact female, and T-treated female cafeteria diet-fed rats. A decrease in the hypothalamic leptin receptors (Ob-Ra and Ob-Rb) and pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA was observed only in male hypertensive cafeteria diet-fed rats. Although no alterations in Ob-R occurred in both groups of female cafeteria diet-fed rats, the hyperleptinaemic state of these animals had no influence on POMC mRNA levels. In intact female rats, expression of the suppressors of cytokines signaling SOCS-1, SOCS-2, SOCS-3, and cytokine inhibitor signaling were unaltered, whereas in T-treated females SOCS-3 was overexpressed. Finally SOCS-1 mRNA level was increased only in male rats. Because hyperinsulinemia was reported to counteract the leptin-induced stimulation of the sympathetic tone and because SOCS-1 and -3 are potential inhibitors of insulin signaling, our results suggest that the hypothalamic overexpression of SOCS-1 or SOCS-3 found in male or T-treated female rats after cafeteria diet feeding could block the negative influence of the hyperinsulinemia on the central pressor action of leptin, thereby contributing to their hypertensive state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Neuropeptides / genetics
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Neuropeptides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Leptin