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María F Andreoli, Jose Donato Jr, Isin Cakir, and Mario Perello

Leptin resistance refers to states in which leptin fails to promote its anticipated effects, frequently coexisting with hyperleptinaemia. Leptin resistance is closely associated with obesity and also observed in physiological situations such as pregnancy and in seasonal animals. Leptin resensitisation refers to the reversion of leptin-resistant states and is associated with improvement in endocrine and metabolic disturbances commonly observed in obesity and a sustained decrease of plasma leptin levels, possibly below a critical threshold level. In obesity, leptin resensitisation can be achieved with treatments that reduce body adiposity and leptinaemia, or with some pharmacological compounds, while physiological leptin resistance reverts spontaneously. The restoration of leptin sensitivity could be a useful strategy to treat obesity, maintain weight loss and/or reduce the recidivism rate for weight regain after dieting. This review provides an update and discussion about reversion of leptin-resistant states and modulation of the molecular mechanisms involved in each situation.

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Pryscila D S Teixeira, Angela M Ramos-Lobo, Mariana Rosolen Tavares, Frederick Wasinski, Renata Frazao, and Jose Donato Jr

Leptin is a hormone required for the regulation of body weight in adult animals. However, during the postnatal period, leptin is mostly involved in developmental processes. Because the precise moment at which leptin starts to exert its metabolic effects is not well characterized, our objective was to identify the approximate onset of leptin effects on the regulation of energy balance. We observed that male Lepob/ob mice started to exhibit increased body fat mass from postnatal day 13 (P13), whereas in females, the increase in adiposity began on P20. Daily leptin injections from P10 to P22 did not reduce the weight gain of WT mice. However, an acute leptin injection induced an anorexigenic response in 10-day-old C57BL/6 mice but not in 7-day-old mice. An age-dependent increase in the number of leptin receptor-expressing neurons and leptin-induced pSTAT3 cells was observed in the hypothalamus of P7, P10 and P16 mice. Leptin deficiency started to modulate the hypothalamic expression of transcripts involved in the regulation of metabolism between P7 and P12. Additionally, fasting-induced hypothalamic responses were prevented by leptin replacement in 10-day-old mice. Finally, 12-day-old males and females showed similar developmental timing of axonal projections of arcuate nucleus neurons in both WT and Lepob/ob mice. In summary, we provided a detailed characterization of the onset of leptin’s effects on the regulation of energy balance. These findings contribute to the understanding of leptin functions during development.

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Gabriel O de Souza, Fernanda M Chaves, Josiane N Silva, João A B Pedroso, Martin Metzger, Renata Frazão, and Jose Donato

Recent studies indicated an important role of connexins, gap junction proteins, in the regulation of metabolism. However, most of these studies focused on the glial expression of connexins, whereas the actions of connexins in neurons are still poorly investigated. Thus, the present study had the objective to investigate the possible involvement of gap junctions, and in particular connexin 43 (CX43), for the central regulation of energy homeostasis. Initially, we demonstrated that hypothalamic CX43 expression was suppressed in fasted mice. Using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we showed that pharmacological blockade of gap junctions induced hyperpolarization and decreased the frequency of action potentials in 50–70% of agouti-related protein (AgRP)-expressing neurons, depending on the blocker used (carbenoxolone disodium, TAT-Gap19 or Gap 26). When recordings were performed with a biocytin-filled pipette, this intercellular tracer was detected in surrounding cells. Then, an AgRP-specific CX43 knockout (AgRPΔCX43) mouse was generated. AgRPΔCX43 mice exhibited no differences in body weight, adiposity, food intake, energy expenditure and glucose homeostasis. Metabolic responses to 24 h fasting or during refeeding were also not altered in AgRPΔCX43 mice. However, AgRPΔCX43 male, but not female mice, exhibited a partial protection against high-fat diet-induced obesity, even though no significant changes in energy intake or expenditure were detected. In summary, our findings indicate that gap junctions regulate the activity of AgRP neurons, and AgRP-specific CX43 ablation is sufficient to mildly prevent diet-induced obesity specifically in males.

Free access

Tabata M Bohlen, Thais T Zampieri, Isadora C Furigo, Pryscila D S Teixeira, Edward O List, John J Kopchick, Jose Donato Jr, and Renata Frazao

Growth hormone (GH) is a key factor in the regulation of body growth, as well as a variety of other cellular and metabolic processes. Neurons expressing kisspeptin and leptin receptors (LepR) have been shown to modulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis and are considered GH responsive. The presence of functional GH receptors (GHR) in these neural populations suggests that GH may regulate the HPG axis via a central mechanism. However, there have been no studies evaluating whether or not GH-induced intracellular signaling in the brain plays a role in the timing of puberty or mediates the ovulatory cycle. Toward the goal of understanding the influence of GH on the central nervous system as a mediator of reproductive functions, GHR ablation was induced in kisspeptin and LepR-expressing cells or in the entire brain. The results demonstrated that GH signaling in specific neural populations can potentially modulate the hypothalamic expression of genes related to the reproductive system or indirectly contribute to the progression of puberty. GH action in kisspeptin cells or in the entire brain was not required for sexual maturation. On the other hand, GHR ablation in LepR cells delayed puberty progression, reduced serum leptin levels, decreased body weight gain and compromised the ovulatory cycle in some individuals, while the lack of GH effects in the entire brain prompted shorter estrous cycles. These findings suggest that GH can modulate brain components of the HPG axis, although central GH signaling is not required for the timing of puberty.

Free access

João A B Pedroso, Pedro O R de Mendonca, Marco A S Fortes, Igor Tomaz, Vitor L Pecorali, Thais B Auricino, Ismael C Costa, Leandro B Lima, Isadora C Furigo, Debora N Bueno, Angela M Ramos-Lobo, Claudimara F P Lotfi, and Jose Donato Jr

Many hormones/cytokines are secreted in response to exercise and cytokine signaling may play a pivotal role in the training adaptations. To investigate the importance of cytokine signaling during vertical ladder climbing, a resistance exercise model, we produced mice lacking SOCS3 protein exclusively in steroidogenic factor-1 (SF1) cells (SF1 Socs3 KO mice). SF1 expression is found in steroidogenic cells of the adrenal cortex and gonads, as well as in neurons of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus. Histological markers of the fetal adrenal zone (or X-zone in rodents) were still present in adult males and postpartum SF1 Socs3 KO females, suggesting a previously unrecognized effect of SOCS3 on the terminal differentiation of the adrenal gland. This change led to a distinct distribution of lipid droplets along the adrenal cortex. Under basal conditions, adult SF1 Socs3 KO mice exhibited similar adrenal weight, and plasma ACTH and corticosterone concentrations. Nonetheless, SF1 Socs3 KO mice exhibited a blunted ACTH-induced corticosterone secretion. The overall metabolic responses induced by resistance training remained unaffected in SF1 Socs3 KO mice, including changes in body adiposity, glucose tolerance and energy expenditure. However, training performance and glucose control during intense resistance exercise were impaired in SF1 Socs3 KO mice. Furthermore, a reduced counter-regulatory response to 2-deoxy-d-glucose was observed in mutant mice. These findings revealed a novel participation of SOCS3 regulating several endocrine and metabolic aspects. Therefore, cytokine signaling in SF1 cells exerts an important role to sustain training performance possibly by promoting the necessary metabolic adjustments during exercise.