In these studies we investigated the time course of changes in circulating leptin levels in lactating rats and the dependence of these changes on the energetic cost of lactation and evaluated the contribution of changes in leptin levels to lactational hyperphagia and infertility. In the first experiment, plasma leptin levels were measured on Days 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 postpartum in freefeeding lactating rats and age-matched virgin females. Retroperitoneal and parametrial fat pads weights were obtained from the same females. In the second experiment the same measures, together with plasma insulin and prolactin levels, were taken on Days 15 and 20 postpartum from galactophore-cut and sham-operated females. In Experiments 3 and 4, the effects of exogenous leptin administration, either subcutaneously (sc) or intracerebroventricularly (icv), on lactational anovulation, maternal food intake, and dam and litter weights were examined. Circulating leptin levels decreased in lactating rats. Leptin levels were highly positively correlated with fat pad weight. Eliminating the energetic costs of lactation by preventing milk delivery induced dramatic increases in plasma leptin and insulin levels and also increased adiposity. Exogenous leptin administration did not affect length of lactational anovulation but reduced food intake, maternal body weight, and litter weight gain when given centrally and maternal body weight when given systemically. Together, these data show that the energetic costs of lactation are associated with a fall in circulating leptin levels but that these do not make a major contribution to the suppression of reproduction in lactating rats; however, they may be permissive to the hyperphagia of lactation. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL
Journal Hormones and Behavior
Woodside, B. (Barbara), Abizaid, A, & Walker, C.-D. (C.-Dominique). (2000). Changes in leptin levels during lactation: Implications for lactational hyperphagia and anovulation. Hormones and Behavior, 37(4), 353–365. doi:10.1006/hbeh.2000.1598