Chapter

Leptin

Volume 25 of the series Endocrine Updates pp 1-9

The Obese (ob/ob) Mouse and the Discovery of Leptin

  • V. Daniel CastracaneAffiliated withTexas Tech University School of Medicine
  • , Michael C. HensonAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Purdue University Calumet

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Abstract

Early theories describing appetite regulation and energy expenditure suggested the lipostatic theory, which hypothesized that some peripheral signal, probably from adipose tissue, would feedback to central satiety centers to modulate food intake and body weight. However, the experimental techniques needed to validate this hypothesis were lacking at that time. Subsequently, two strains of obese mutants, the ob/ob mouse and later the db/db mouse, were discovered 50 and 40 years ago, respectively, and proved invaluable to studying the regulation of food intake, energy expenditure and obesity. Prior to the development of today’s more sophisticated techniques for studying biological and biochemical processes, the use of parabiosis, the surgical attachment of two animals with a shared blood supply, provided valuable insights into the obesity. Information gained from studies of these strains of mice, especially in parabiotic studies with normal counter parts, provided evidence for a humoral factor involved in appetite regulation and initiated the search for its identity. Friedman et al discovered leptin in 1994, and demonstrated that this hormone, the product of the obese (ob) gene, was produced in white adipose tissue and served as the peripheral signal to the central nervous system of nutritional status. After leptin’s discovery, the obese mouse model continued to play an invaluable role in the validation of leptin as the missing factor in the ob/ob mouse and served as a principal model to delineate the many facets of leptin physiology.

Key words

obesity ob/ob mouse db/db mouse genetics mice leptin