Saturable leptin transport across the BBB persists in EAE mice

J Mol Neurosci. 2013 Oct;51(2):364-70. doi: 10.1007/s12031-013-9993-8. Epub 2013 Mar 16.


We have shown that mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a model of multiple sclerosis, have upregulated leptin receptor expression in reactive astrocytes of the hippocampus, a region involved in sickness behavior. Leptin can exacerbate EAE when its serum concentration is high. Although leptin receptors in astrocytes modulate leptin transport across cultured endothelial cell monolayers, it is not known how leptin transport in EAE mice is regulated. Here, we determined brain and cervical spinal cord uptake of leptin in early and recovery stages of EAE, after either intravenous delivery or in situ brain perfusion of (125)I-leptin and the vascular marker (131)I-albumin. While increased vascular space and general blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability after EAE were expected, the specific saturable transport system for leptin crossing the BBB also persisted. Moreover, there was upregulation of leptin transport in hippocampus and cervical spinal cord in the early stage of EAE, shown by higher leptin uptake in these regions and by competitive inhibition with coadministered excess unlabeled leptin. We conclude that EAE induced a time- and region-specific increase of leptin transport. The results provide a link between circulating leptin and enhanced leptin signaling that may play a crucial role in disease progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Capillary Permeability*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Leptin / metabolism*
  • Leptin / pharmacokinetics
  • Mice
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism


  • Leptin