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DW Miller, PA Findlay, MA Morrison, N Raver and CL Adam

The role of leptin in neuroendocrine appetite and reproductive regulation remains to be fully resolved. A series of three experiments was conducted using adequately nourished oestradiol-implanted castrated male sheep. In a cross-over design (n=6), responses to a single i.c.v. (third ventricle) injection of leptin (0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 mg ovine leptin (oLEP) and 1.0 mg murine leptin (mLEP)), N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA, 20 micro g) or 0.9% saline (control) were measured in terms of LH secretion (4 h post-injection compared with 4 h pre-injection) and appetite (during 2 h post-injection) in autumn (Experiment 1). NMDA and 1.0 mg oLEP treatments were repeated in the same sheep in the following spring (Experiment 2). With an additional 12 sheep (n=18 in cross-over design), responses to low-dose 'physiological' i.c.v. infusion of leptin (8 ng/h for 12 h daily for 4 days), insulin (0.7 ng/h) and artificial cerebrospinal fluid were measured in the next spring (Experiment 3). LH was studied over 8 h and appetite over 1 h on days 1 and 4 of infusion. In Experiment 1 (autumn), oLEP overall increased LH pulse frequency by up to 110% (P<0.05), decreased LH pulse amplitude (P<0.05) and decreased appetite (P<0.05). mLEP reduced LH pulse amplitude (P<0.05) without significant effect on appetite, while NMDA reduced appetite (P<0.05) but had no effect on LH. In Experiment 2 (spring), LH responses were 'surge-like' with highly significant increases in the moving average LH concentration after 1.0 mg oLEP (P<0.001) and after NMDA (P<0.001). Compared with similar analysis of experiment 1 results, the LH response in spring was greater than that in autumn for both 1.0 mg oLEP (P<0.05) and NMDA (P<0.005). Conversely, unlike in autumn (Experiment 1), there was no effect of 1.0 mg oLEP or NMDA on appetite in the spring (Experiment 2). In Experiment 3 (spring), 'physiological' i.c.v. infusion of oLEP or insulin increased LH pulse frequency by up to 100% (P<0.001) compared with the control infusion on both days 1 and 4, but there were no effects on appetite. These results indicate that intracerebral leptin both stimulates reproductive neuroendocrine output and decreases appetite in adequately nourished sheep. However, the responses of these two axes were dose-dependent and differentially affected by the time of year, suggesting dissociation of the neural pathways involved.

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CD Morrison, JA Daniel, BJ Holmberg, J Djiane, N Raver, A Gertler and DH Keisler

Leptin has been implicated in the regulation of feed intake, growth, and reproduction. The objective of this study was to determine if centrally administered leptin would affect feed intake and the secretion of growth hormone (GH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) in ewe lambs. Eighteen ewe lambs were ovariectomized and fitted with intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) cannulae. Lambs were randomly assigned to receive either a maintenance diet (fed), or a diet that provided 38% of maintenance requirements (diet-restricted) for 14 weeks. Subsequently, recombinant ovine leptin or vehicle was continuously infused, via i.c.v. cannulae, in a linearly increasing dose for 8 days, reaching a maximum of 1.25 microg/kg per h. Feed intake was recorded on days -1 to 7. Blood was collected via jugular cannulae every 10 min for 4 h on days 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 for the determination of serum leptin, insulin, LH and GH. Leptin suppressed feed intake in fed lambs on days 4 to 7 (P<0.001), but had no effect on feed intake in diet-restricted lambs (P>0.25). Fed lambs had greater serum concentrations of leptin than diet-restricted lambs (P=0.007). Also, although not different on day 0 (pretreatment), on day 8 serum leptin concentrations were greater in leptin-treated lambs than in saline-treated lambs (P=0.003). Insulin was lower in diet-restricted than in fed lambs (P=0.003), but was not affected by leptin treatment (P=0.82). LH pulse frequencies were lower in diet-restricted lambs than in fed lambs (P=0.038), but were not affected by leptin treatment (P=0.85). Mean serum GH was greater in diet-restricted than in fed lambs (P<0.01). In diet-restricted lambs treated with leptin or saline, mean GH did not differ on day 0, but increased in response to leptin treatment (P<0.006). Treatment of fed lambs with leptin did not affect serum GH (P>0.32). From this work, we propose that leptin represents an important functional link between adipose stores and hypothalamic function in ruminants. We demonstrate that leptin concentrations change in response to reduced nutritional status, and that leptin has the ability to regulate multiple physiological processes in lambs, including both feed intake and secretion of GH.

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M G Gnanalingham, A Mostyn, J Wang, R Webb, D H Keisler, N Raver, M C Alves-Guerra, C Pecqueur, B Miroux, T Stephenson and M E Symonds

Many tissues undergo a rapid transition after birth, accompanied by dramatic changes in mitochondrial protein function. In particular, uncoupling protein (UCP) abundance increases at birth in the lung and adipose tissue, to then gradually decline, an adaptation that is important in enabling normal tissue function. Leptin potentially mediates some of these changes and is known to promote the loss of UCP1 from brown fat but its effects on UCP2 and related mitochondrial proteins (i.e. voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) and cytochrome c) in other tissues are unknown. We therefore determined the effects of once-daily jugular venous administration of ovine recombinant leptin on mitochondrial protein abundance as determined by immunoblotting in tissues that do (i.e. the brain and pancreas) and do not (i.e. liver and skeletal muscle) express UCP2. Eight pairs of 1-day-old lambs received either 100 μg leptin or vehicle daily for 6 days, before tissue sampling on day 7. Administration of leptin diminished UCP2 abundance in the pancreas, but not the brain. Leptin administration had no affect on the abundance of VDAC or cytochrome c in any tissue examined. In leptin-administered animals, but not controls, UCP2 abundance in the pancreas was positively correlated with VDAC and cytochrome c content, and UCP2 abundance in the brain with colonic temperature. In conclusion, leptin administration to neonatal lambs causes a tissue-specific loss of UCP2 from the pancreas. These effects may be important in the regulation of neonatal tissue development and potentially for optimising metabolic control mechanisms in later life.