In this study, plasma leptin concentrations were measured in rats artificially rendered hyper- or hypothyroid by administration of thyroxine or TRH, by administration of methimazole, or by thyroidectomy. Compared with those in untreated controls, leptin immunoreactivity was not affected in the hyperthyroid state, but was significantly increased in hypothyroid animals. Methimazole administration for longer time periods caused a stepwise increase in plasma leptin immunoreactivity. Greatest leptin concentrations were seen after 28 days of methimazole. Seven days after withdrawal of the methimazole, leptin concentrations no longer differed from those observed in control animals. In hypothyroid animals, expression of leptin mRNA was increased in both retroperitoneal and epididymal adipose tissue, whereas no difference was seen for subcutaneous or mesenteric fat. Incubation of rat leptin with plasma of eu- or hypothyroid rats and subsequent HPLC analysis of leptin plasma peaks gave no indication of an altered hormone stability. We conclude that, in hypothyroid rats, leptin concentrations may be increased as a result of stimulated leptin synthesis in retroperitoneal and epididymal adipose tissue.
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