Leptin is an important modulator of both inflammation and energy homeostasis, making it a key interface between the inflammatory response to pathogenic stimuli and the energy status of the host. In previous studies we demonstrated that sickness responses to systemic immune challenge, including fever, are significantly exacerbated in diet induced obese animals. To investigate whether this exacerbation is functionally linked to the obesity associated increase in circulating levels of leptin, a species-specific leptin antiserum (LAS) was used to neutralize endogenous leptin in diet-induced obese adult male Wistar rats treated with a single intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (100μg/kg). LAS significantly reduced the magnitude of the later phases of the fever response, and attenuated the circulating levels of IL-6, IL-1ra and bioactivity of leptin in the obese animals. In addition, the antiserum significantly attenuated the hypothalamic expression of IL-1ß, IκBα, COX2, SOCS3 and IL-6 in both lean and obese rats 10h after the LPS injection and NF-IL6 in the hypothalamus of obese rats only. The relatively late rise in brain IL-6 suggested a role in mediating the extended fever response in obese animals and we tested this by neutralizing brain IL-6 using an IL6-AS injected intracerebroventricularly (4μl, icv). The IL6-AS significantly but transiently (between 9h and 12h post LPS) reduced the late fever response of obese rats. These results demonstrate that leptin plays an important part in modulating the late portion of the fever response to LPS, likely through the induction of hypothalamic IL-6 in obese animals.
Keywords: Cytokines; Fever; Leptin; Obesity.
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