Does leptin play a vital role in initiating puberty in female rats and can it overrule a nutrionally imposed (i.e. a 30% feed restriction, FR) delay in puberty onset? Prepubertal female rats were chronically infused for 14 days with leptin (icv or sc) or leptin-antiserum (icv) while puberty onset was monitored by means of scoring the moment of vaginal opening (VO). Median VO age was higher (35 days versus 27 days) in FR animals but leptin levels at VO were significantly decreased (1.44 ± 0.17 ng/ml versus 2.79 ± 0.31 ng/ml). Centrally (icv) and peripherally (sc) infused leptin (1 ¿g/day) advanced VO age compared to FR controls (30 days versus 35 days and 31 days versus 41 days, respectively). Congruently, centrally (icv) administered leptin-antiserum (0.6 ¿g/day) delayed puberty onset. In normally fed rats median VO age was only marginally advanced (26 days versus 27 days) but only if leptin was applied centrally. The effects of FR on puberty onset are counteracted or even normalized by the infusion of leptin, whereas immunoneutralization of central leptin postpones puberty onset. We therefore conclude that central leptin is crucial for initiating puberty in female rats.
- metabolic signal