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S Asakuma, O Hiraku, Y Kurose, S Kobayashi, and Y Terashima

Leptin suppresses food intake and increases energy expenditure in the hypothalamus. Rats consume most of their daily food intake during the dark phase of the diurnal cycle. Lactating rats have increased food intake, but the involvement of leptin in the regulation of food intake in this physiological condition is not well understood. The present experiment was carried out to determine the circadian pattern of leptin concentrations in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in relation to the feeding behavior of non-lactating and lactating rats.Female rats were maintained on a controlled lighting schedule (lights on between 0600 and 1800 h) and the food intake of lactating rats was two- or threefold higher than that of non-lactating rats. In both groups, food intake was three times greater in the dark phase (P<0.01) compared with the light phase. The plasma concentrations of leptin were lower (P<0.01) in lactating rats than non-lactating rats in both light and dark phases, but there were no differences in plasma leptin levels between light and dark phases. In contrast, and in both groups, the leptin concentrations in CSF were lower (P<0.01) in the dark phase than in the light phase. Leptin levels in CSF were lower (P<0.01) in lactating rats than in non-lactating rats. We conclude that a diurnal pattern of leptin levels within the brain (but not in plasma) reflects characteristics of feeding behavior in lactating and non-lactating rats.