This study was conducted to examine the contributions of central and peripheral leptin to hyperphagia in lactation. Lactating rats were mated at 7-8 weeks of age and housed singly with their litters. In experiment 1, food intakes were significantly (P<0.01) greater (350% on average) in lactation than in non-lactation throughout a day. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leptin levels remained constant despite plasma leptin levels being significantly (P<0.05) greater in non-lactation than in lactation. In experiment 2, CSF leptin levels were not altered by i.v. injections of leptin (0.2 and 0 .4 mg/kg body weight) despite that plasma leptin levels were dose dependently (P<0.01) increased. Moreover, i.v. administration of leptin significantly (P<0.05) decreased food intake in non-lactating rats but not in lactating rats. In experiment 3, nocturnal food intakeswere temporarily (P<0.05) reduced in non-lactating and lactating rats. I.c.v. administration of a leptin antagonist (15 μg) blocked the reductions of food intakes. I.c.v. administration of leptin (10 μg) significantly (P<0.05) decreased cumulative food intakes during 24 h in both the physiological states. In conclusion, this study has presented new evidence that the hyperphagia of lactating rats could be partly due to depressed sensitivity of neurons contacting blood leptin. In contrast, the responsiveness of leptin receptors contacting CSF leptin may not differ between non-lactating and lactating rats. Furthermore, the levels of CSF leptin remained constant independent of those of blood leptin. Therefore, the expression of hypothalamic leptin receptors contacting CSF could be involved in the difference in food intake between non-lactating and lactating rats.
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