Leptin Suppresses the Rewarding Effects of Running via STAT3 Signaling in Dopamine Neurons.
Mechanisms regulating spontaneous physical activity remain poorly characterized despite evidence of influential genetic and acquired factors. We evaluated ambulatory activity and wheel running in leptin-deficient ob/ob mice and in wild-type mice rendered hypoleptinemic by fasting in both the presence and absence of subcutaneous leptin administration. In ob/ob mice, leptin treatment to plasma levels characteristic of wild-type mice acutely increased both ambulatory activity (by 4,000 ± 200 beam breaks/dark cycle, P < 0.05) and total energy expenditure (TEE; by 0.11 ± 0.01 kcal/h during the dark cycle, P < 0.05) in a dose-dependent manner and acutely increased wheel running (+350%, P < 0.05). Fasting potently increased ambulatory activity and wheel running in wild-type mice (AA: +25%, P < 0.05; wheel running: +80%, P < 0.05), and the effect of fasting was more pronounced in ob/ob mice (AA: +400%, P < 0.05; wheel running: +1,600%, P < 0.05). However, unlike what occurred in ad libitum-fed ob/ob mice, physiological leptin replacement attenuated or prevented fasting-induced increases of ambulatory activity and wheel running in both wild-type and ob/ob mice. Thus, plasma leptin is a physiological regulator of spontaneous physical activity, but the nature of leptin's effect on activity is dependent on food availability.