, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 176–188 | Cite as

High-fat diet-induced changes in body mass and hypothalamic gene expression in wild-type and leptin-deficient mice

  • Kristy L. Townsend
  • Magen M. Lorenzi
  • Eric P. Widmaier
Original Paper


We tested whether diet-induced obesity results from increased energy consumption, is associated with changes in expression of genes involved in leptin signal transduction, and is altered by hyperleptinemia. C57BL/6 mice were fed a low-fat diet (LFD) or high-fat diet (HFD) for up to 15 weeks. HFD mice weighed significantly more than LFD controls by 3 weeks, despite consuming less energy. HFD mice had significantly greater leptin, insulin, and glucose levels than LFD mice, suggesting leptin and insulin resistance. Adiponectin levels declined with age but were unaffected by diet. HFD was associated with altered hypothalamic expression of genes whose products regulate the activity or nuclear translocation of STAT3, an important mediator of leptin actions. Expression of two isoforms of the leptin receptor decreased at 15 weeks in hypothalami of HFD mice in a tissue-specific manner. The type of fat (saturated versus unsaturated) did not influence weight gain on an HFD, but animals on LFD gained significantly more weight and adiposity if the dietary fat consisted mostly of saturated fats; this occurred despite no difference in energy consumption or absorption. Replacement of leptin to leptin-deficient ob/ob mice decreased hypothalamic leptin receptor expression and did not prevent HFD-induced weight gain. It is concluded that (1) increased energy consumption is not required for HFD-induced obesity in C57BL/6 mice, (2) HFD results in weight gain partly by modulating hypothalamic leptin-signaling pathways, (3) saturated fats induce weight gain even when total fat content of the diet is low, and (4) the effects of HFD are manifest in the presence or absence of circulating leptin.


Diet-induced obesity High-fat diet Saturated fats ob/ob mice Energy consumption 



The authors thank M. Jecrois, D. Peacher, I. Manasherov, N. Ringel, R. Trevino, J. Anderson, R. Poythress, M. Lynes, and J. Allen for technical assistance, and Dr. C. Richardson for statistical consultation. Supported by NSF grants IBN0446057 (EPW), NSF DDIG IOB0507914 (KLT), an American Association of University Women doctoral dissertation fellowship to KLT, and the Boston University Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (MLL).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristy L. Townsend
    • 1
  • Magen M. Lorenzi
    • 1
  • Eric P. Widmaier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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