Arcuate nucleus-specific leptin receptor gene therapy attenuates the obesity phenotype of Koletsky (fa(k)/fa(k)) rats.


Leptin signaling in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC) is hypothesized to play an important role in energy homeostasis. To investigate whether leptin signaling limited to this brain area is sufficient to reduce food intake and body weight, we used adenoviral gene therapy to express the signaling isoform of the leptin receptor, lepr(b), in the ARC of leptin receptor-deficient Koletsky (fa(k)/fa(k)) rats. Successful expression of adenovirus containing lepr(b) (Ad-lepr(b)) selectively in the ARC was documented by in situ hybridization. Using real-time PCR, we further demonstrated that bilateral microinjection of Ad-lepr(b) into the ARC restored low hypothalamic levels of lepr(b) mRNA to values approximating those of wild-type (Fa(k)/Fa(k)) controls. Restored leptin receptor expression in the ARC reduced both mean daily food intake (by 13%) and body weight gain (by 33%) and increased hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin mRNA by 65% while decreasing neuropeptide Y mRNA levels by 30%, relative to fa(k)/fa(k) rats injected with a control adenovirus (Ad-lacZ) (P