, Volume 169, Issue 1, pp 61-66

Plasma leptin decreases during lactation in insectivorous bats

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We previously demonstrated high leptin levels during late pregnancy in little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). We now extend these observations to a second species, the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), and also report that leptin increases after the first trimester of pregnancy. Leptin decreased to baseline 1 week following parturition, with a half-time decay of 2 days. During lactation, leptin was significantly correlated with body mass in E. fuscus, but not in M. lucifugus. No circadian pattern of leptin was observed in M. lucifugus. The decrease in post-partum leptin in bats may be partly explained by loss of putative placental leptin. The continued decrease may reflect depletion of body fat during this energy demanding period, at least in Eptesicus. Changes in leptin during lactation appeared to be independent of circadian effects and time of sampling. Our study provides additional evidence that leptin increases during pregnancy and declines during lactation in a free-ranging mammal, supporting the hypothesis that leptin plays important but yet undetermined roles in reproduction.

Accepted: 4 October 1998