Obese, leptin deficient obob mice have profoundly decreased activity and increased food seeking behavior. The decreased activity has been attributed to obesity. In mice, we tested the hypothesis that leptin increases total locomotor activity but inhibits food anticipatory activity. We also sought to determine if leptin induced increases in total locomotor activity are independent of changes in body weight and obesity. We studied obob mice and also created a novel transgenic mouse where leptin is over-expressed in a tetracycline-off system and can be abruptly and non-invasively suppressed by doxycycline within few hours. The studies were performed using two independent behavioral assays: home cage activity (HCA) and running wheel activity (RWA). Systemic administration of leptin (150 ng/hr) to obob mice produced a 122%±30% (mean ± SEM) increase (p≤0.01) in locomotor activity within 2 days In addition, cerebroventricular administration of leptin (5 ng/hr) also produced an early and progressive increase in total locomotor activity beginning on the 1st day (+28±8%; p≤0.05) and increasing to +69±23% on day 3 without a decrease in body weight during this time. The increase in activity was restricted to the dark phase. Conversely, in a tet-off transgenic obob mouse line, acute leptin suppression reduced spontaneous locomotor activity. To further define activities that are leptin regulated, we assayed food anticipatory activity (FAA) and found that it was markedly augmented in obob mice compared to wild type mice (+38±6.7 in obob vs +20±6.3% in wild type at peak; mean ± SEM; p≤0.001) and abolished by leptin. Although melanocortin-3 receptors (MC3R) reportedly mediate FAA, we found augmented FAA and preserved inhibitory effects of leptin on FAA in MC3R-/-obob mice. In summary, this study demonstrates that total activity and FAA are regulated independently by leptin. Leptin, acting in the central nervous system and at physiologic levels, produces early increases in locomotor activity before substantial weight loss. In contrast, leptin suppresses augmented food anticipatory activity in obob mice.
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