Leptin regulates body weight by signaling to the brain the availability of energy stored as fat. This negative feedback loop becomes disrupted in most obese individuals, resulting in a state known as leptin resistance. The physiological causes of leptin resistance remain poorly understood. Here we test the hypothesis that hyperleptinemia is required for the development of leptin resistance in diet-induced obese mice. We show that mice whose plasma leptin has been clamped to lean levels develop obesity in response to a high-fat diet, and the magnitude of this obesity is indistinguishable from wild-type controls. Yet these obese animals with constant low levels of plasma leptin remain highly sensitive to exogenous leptin even after long-term exposure to a high fat diet. This shows that dietary fats alone are insufficient to block the response to leptin. The data also suggest that hyperleptinemia itself can contribute to leptin resistance by downregulating cellular response to leptin as has been shown for other hormones
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