Consuming sucrose solution promotes leptin resistance and site specifically modifies hypothalamic leptin signaling in rats

Ruth B.S. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Rats consuming 30% sucrose solution and a sucrose-free diet (LiqS) become leptin resistant, whereas rats consuming sucrose from a formulated diet (HS) remain leptin responsive. This study tested whether leptin resistance in LiqS rats extended beyond a failure to inhibit food intake and examined leptin responsiveness in the hypothalamus and hindbrain of rats offered HS, LiqS, or a sucrose-free diet (NS). Female LiqS Sprague-Dawley rats initially only partially compensated for the calories consumed as sucrose, but energy intake matched that of HS and NS rats when they were transferred to calorimetry cages. There was no effect of diet on energy expenditure, intrascapular brown fat tissue (IBAT) temperature, or fat pad weight. A peripheral injection of 2mg of leptin/kg on day 23 or day 26 inhibited energy intake of HS and NS but not LiqS rats. Inhibition occurred earlier in HS rats than in NS rats and was associated with a smaller meal size. Leptin had no effect on energy expenditure but caused a transient rise in IBAT temperature of HS rats. Leptin increased the phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (pSTAT3) in the hindbrain and ventromedial hypothalamus of all rats. There was a minimal effect of leptin in the arcuate nucleus, and only the dorsomedial hypothalamus showed a correlation between pSTAT3 and leptin responsiveness. These data suggest that the primary response to leptin is inhibition of food intake and the pattern of sucrose consumption, rather than calories consumed as sucrose, causes leptin resistance associated with site-specific differences in hypothalamic leptin signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-194
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Dietary sucrose
  • Energy expenditure
  • Female rats
  • Food intake
  • PSTAT3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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