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Stefan O Krechowec, Mark Vickers, Arieh Gertler and Bernhard H Breier

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are world wide health issues and their incidence is rapidly increasing. Currently the biological factors responsible for the development of obesity are only partially understood. Recent research has shown that maternal nutrition during pregnancy may have long-term metabolic consequences in offspring. In the present study we investigated interactions between prenatal and postnatal nutrition on leptin sensitivity and obesity development. Wistar rats were time-mated and randomly assigned to either ad-libitum (AD) or to 30% of ad-libitum (UN) food intake throughout pregnancy. After weaning, female offspring were fed standard chow, a high-fat diet or a calorie restricted diet. Female offspring of UN dams were growth retarded at birth and showed increased susceptibility to diet-induced obesity on a high-fat diet. At 142 ± 5 days of age, leptin sensitivity was measured as a response to 14 days of leptin treatment (2.5 μg/g/day, s.c.). In UN offspring fed chow, leptin treatment failed to reduce food intake and weight loss was diminished. This leptin resistance observed in UN offspring was independent of diet-induced obesity and was associated with fasting hyperinsulinemia and hypertriglyceridemia. Our study suggests that prenatal nutrition can shape future susceptibility to obesity through alterations in leptin sensitivity and changes in energy metabolism during adult life.

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Sami Dridi, Mohammed Taouis, Arieh Gertler, Eddy Decuypere and Johan Buyse

Emerging evidence suggests a potential role of stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD)-1 in the control of body weight and energy homeostasis. The present study was conducted to investigate the effects of several energy balance-related factors (leptin, cerulenin, food deprivation, genotype, and gender) on SCD gene expression in chickens. In experiment 1, 6-week-old female and male broiler chickens were used. In experiment 2, two groups of 3-week-old broiler chickens were continuously infused with recombinant chicken leptin (8 μg/kg/h) or vehicle for 6 h. In experiment 3, two groups of 2-week-old broiler chickens received i.v. injections of cerulenin (15 mg/kg) or vehicle. In experiment 4, two broiler chicken lines (fat and lean) were submitted to two nutritional states (food deprivation for 16 or 24 h and feeding ad libitum). At the end of each experiment, tissues were collected for analyzing SCD gene expression. Data from experiment 1 showed that SCD is ubiquitously expressed in chicken tissues with highest levels in the proventriculus followed by the ovary, hypothalamus, kidney, liver, and adipose tissue in female, and hypothalamus, leg muscle, pancreas, liver, and adipose tissue in male. Female chickens exhibited significantly higher SCD mRNA levels in kidney, breast muscle, proventriculus, and intestine than male chickens. However, hypothalamic SCD gene expression was higher in male than in female (P < 0.05). Leptin increased SCD gene expression in chicken liver (P < 0.05), whereas cerulenin decreased SCD mRNA levels in muscle. Both leptin and cerulenin significantly reduced food intake (P < 0.05). Food deprivation for either 16 or 24 h decreased the hepatic SCD gene expression in fat line and lean line chickens compared with their fed counterparts (P < 0.05). The hypothalamic SCD mRNA levels were decreased in both lines only after 24 h of food deprivation (P < 0.05). In conclusion, SCD is ubiquitously expressed in chickens and it is regulated by leptin, cerulenin, nutritional state, and gender in a tissue-specific manner.

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Nava Chapnik, Gili Solomon, Yoni Genzer, Ruth Miskin, Arieh Gertler and Oren Froy

Transgenic alpha murine urokinase-type plasminogen activator (αMUPA) mice are resistant to obesity and their locomotor activity is altered. As these mice have high leptin levels, our objective was to test whether leptin is responsible for these characteristics. αMUPA, their genetic background control (FVB/N), and C57BL mice were injected s.c. every other day with 20 mg/kg pegylated superactive mouse leptin antagonist (PEG-SMLA) for 6 weeks. We tested the effect of PEG-SMLA on body weight, locomotion, and bone health. The antagonist led to a rapid increase in body weight and subsequent insulin resistance in all treated mice. Food intake of PEG-SMLA-injected animals increased during the initial period of the experiment but then declined to a similar level to that of the control animals. Interestingly, αMUPA mice were found to have reduced bone volume (BV) than FVB/N mice, although PEG-SMLA increased bone mass in both strains. In addition, PEG-SMLA led to disrupted locomotor activity and increased corticosterone levels in C57BL but decreased levels in αMUPA or FVB/N mice. These results suggest that leptin is responsible for the lean phenotype and reduced BV in αMUPA mice; leptin affects corticosterone levels in mice in a strain-specific manner; and leptin alters locomotor activity, a behavior determined by the central circadian clock.

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Charlotte Benoit, Hassina Ould-Hamouda, Delphine Crepin, Arieh Gertler, Laurence Amar and Mohammed Taouis

Perinatal leptin impairment has long-term consequences on energy homeostasis leading to body weight gain. The underlying mechanisms are still not clearly established. We aimed to analyze the long-term effects of early leptin blockade. In this study, newborn rats received daily injection of a pegylated rat leptin antagonist (pRLA) or saline from day 2 (d2) to d13 and then body weight gain, insulin/leptin sensitivity, and expression profile of microRNAs (miRNAs) at the hypothalamic level were determined at d28, d90, or d153 (following 1 month of high-fat diet (HFD) challenge). We show that pRLA treatment predisposes rats to overweight and promotes leptin/insulin resistance in both hypothalamus and liver at adulthood. pRLA treatment also modifies the hypothalamic miRNA expression profile at d28 leading to the upregulation of 34 miRNAs and the downregulation of four miRNAs. For quantitative RT-PCR confirmation, we show the upregulation of rno-miR-10a at d28 and rno-miR-200a, rno-miR-409-5p, and rno-miR-125a-3p following HFD challenge. Finally, pRLA treatment modifies the expression of genes involved in energy homeostasis control such as UCPs and AdipoRs. In pRLA rat muscle, Ucp2/3 and Adipor1/r2 are upregulated at d90. In liver, pRLA treatment upregulates Adipor1/r2 following HFD challenge. These genes are known to be involved in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In conclusion, we demonstrate that the impairment of leptin action in early life promotes insulin/leptin resistance and modifies the hypothalamic miRNA expression pattern in adulthood, and finally, this study highlights the potential link between hypothalamic miRNA expression pattern and insulin/leptin responsiveness.

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Alison Mostyn, Linda Attig, Thibaut Larcher, Samir Dou, Pascale Chavatte-Palmer, Monia Boukthir, Arieh Gertler, Jean Djiane, Michael E Symonds and Latifa Abdennebi-Najar

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) may be accompanied by inadequate thermoregulation, especially in piglets that are not considered to possess any brown adipose tissue (BAT) and are thus entirely dependent on shivering thermogenesis in order to maintain body temperature after birth. Leptin can stimulate heat production by promoting non-shivering thermogenesis in BAT, but whether this response occurs in piglets is unknown. Newborn female piglets that were characterised as showing IUGR (mean birth weight of approximately 0.98 kg) were therefore administered injections of either saline or leptin once a day for the first 5 days of neonatal life. The dose of leptin was 0.5 mg/kg, which is sufficient to increase plasma leptin by approximately tenfold and on the day of birth induced a rapid increase in body temperature to values similar to those of normal-sized ‘control’ piglets (mean birth weight of ∼1.47 kg). Perirenal adipose tissue was then sampled from all offspring at 21 days of age and the presence of the BAT-specific uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) was determined by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. UCP1 was clearly detectable in all samples analysed and its abundance was significantly reduced in the IUGR piglets that had received saline compared with controls, but was raised to the same amount as in controls in those IUGR females given leptin. There were no differences in gene expression between primary markers of brown and white adipose tissues between groups. In conclusion, piglets possess BAT that when stimulated exogenously by leptin can promote increased body temperature.