Parabiosis studies with obese rodents demonstrated that circulating factors are involved in the long-term control of food intake and energy balance.
More than 40 years ago it was hypothesized that rats made obese by hypothalamic or dietary means, as well as genetically obese fa/fa rats and db/db mice, produce a circulating factor that either inhibits food intake or acts metabolically to reduce the fat content of non-obese ad libitum-fed partners. However, none of these obese rodents showed a significant change in weight when parabiosed to a normal animal. It was therefore postulated that these obese rodents produced a circulating lipostatic factor but were unable to respond to it. In contrast, genetically obese ob/ob mice were thought to be deficient in the circulating signal, as they lost weight when parabiosed to lean or obese db/db mice.
The discovery of leptin suggested that the circulating lipostatic signal had been identified. However, a closer look at the outcome of the parabiotic studies reveals that leptin alone does not explain all of the findings of the parabiotic experiments. Another (or more than one) as yet unidentified factor(s) may be involved in energy balance regulation.
The evidence for the existence of further leptin-like hormones comes from observations in which the direct effect of leptin has been eliminated or can be excluded.
CITATION FASEB J. 2001 Sep;15(11):1996-2006
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