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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Early leptin response to a palatable diet predicts dietary obesity in rats: key role of melanocortin-4 receptors in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus.

We have investigated whether interactions between leptin and hypothalamic melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4-Rs) determine individual susceptibility to dietary obesity in rats. Animals with relatively high plasma leptin levels 1 week after presentation of palatable food, before weight increased significantly, subsequently showed lower food intake and weight gain after 8 weeks of palatable feeding than those with low early leptin levels. The rats with lesser weight gain also showed significantly greater down-regulation of MC4-Rs, which mediate hypophagia, in specific hypothalamic areas, namely, the arcuate, dorsomedial, and ventromedial (VMH) nuclei and the median eminence. We suggest that this reflects enhanced receptor exposure to endogenous alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, an appetite-suppressing peptide produced by hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin neurones. It is striking that plasma leptin levels at 1 week were inversely correlated with MC4-R density in the VMH, suggesting that this is a key site of leptin action. The early leptin response to palatable feeding may therefore "program" subsequent feeding behaviour and weight gain by regulating neurones that project selectively to the VMH.[1]


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