Aging is associated with resistance to effects of leptin on fat distribution and insulin action

Xiao Hui Ma, Radhika Muzumdar, Xiao Man Yang, Ilan Gabriely, Rachel Berger, Nir Barzilai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Leptin has been shown to modulate total body fat and visceral fat distribution and to enhance insulin action in young rats. We hypothesize that failure of leptin action may contribute to the increase in visceral fat and insulin resistance in aging. By chronic subcutaneous infusion of leptin over 7 days, we increased leptin levels in young rats to match the levels in aging ad libitum fed rats. Leptin induced an ∼50% decrease in food intake compared with saline controls, an ∼50% decrease in visceral fat, and improved hepatic (fourfold) and peripheral (30%) insulin action (euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp technique) compared with the pair-fed group (p < .001). Although the plasma leptin level was doubled in aging rats, leptin failed to produce a significant change in food intake, in fat mass and its distribution, and in hepatic and peripheral insulin action. Increasing plasma leptin levels failed to suppress leptin gene expression in aging rats as compared with the ∼50% suppression seen in young rats (p < .01). We propose that leptin resistance may play a causative role in the metabolic decline seen with aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)B225-B231
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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