Preventing leptin resistance by blocking angiotensin II AT1 receptors in diet-induced obese rats

Br J Pharmacol. 2015 Feb;172(3):857-68. doi: 10.1111/bph.12949. Epub 2014 Nov 24.


Background and purpose: AT1 receptor blockers (ARBs) represent an approach for treating metabolic syndrome due to their potency in reducing hypertension, body weight and onset of type 2 diabetes. The mechanism underlying ARB-induced weight loss is still unclear.

Experimental approach: Leptin resistance tests (LRTs) in diet-induced obese or lean rats were conducted to determine whether telmisartan (8 mg·kg(-1) ·day(-1) , 14 days) enhances leptin sensitivity. Phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (pSTAT3) staining was performed in hypothalami to determine leptin transport across the blood-brain barrier.

Key results: Telmisartin reduced weight gain, food intake and plasma leptin but blood pressure remained unchanged. The 24 h profiles of plasma leptin after saline injections were similar in controls and telmisartan-treated rats, but after leptin injections were higher in controls and slightly lower in telmisartan-treated animals. After telmisartan, energy intake during LRT was lower in leptin- than in saline-pretreated rats, but remained unchanged in controls, irrespectively of whether rats received saline or leptin. Leptin minimized the gain in body weight during LRT in telmisartan-treated rats as compared with saline-treated animals. pSTAT3 staining was reduced in cafeteria diet-fed rats as compared with chow-fed rats but this was normalized by telmisartan. Telmisartin reduced hypothalamic mRNA levels of the orexigenic peptides melanin-concentrating hormone and prepro-orexin.

Conclusions and implications: Rats fed a cafeteria diet develop leptin resistance after 2 weeks. Leptin sensitivity was preserved by telmisartan treatment even in rats fed a cafeteria diet. This pleiotropic effect is not related to the hypotensive action of telmisartan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leptin / metabolism*
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / metabolism*


  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers
  • Leptin
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1