Ob (obese) gene expression and leptin levels in Psammomys obesus

K. Walder, M. Willet, P. Zimmet, G. R. Collier

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In this study we investigated ob gene expression and plasma leptin levels in Psammomys obesus (the Israeli Sand Rat), a polygenic animal model of obesity and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The ob gene was expressed exclusively in adipocytes of Psammomys obesus. DNA sequencing revealed a high degree of homology with other species (90% with mouse, 88% with rat and 79% with human). No ob gene sequence differences were found between lean and obese Psammomys obesus, and the codon 105 mutation found in ob/ob mice was not detected. Ob gene expression in Psammomys obesus correlated with body weight (r = 0.436, p < 0.001), percent body fat (r = 0.645, p < 0.001) and plasma insulin concentration (r = 0.651, p < 0.001). This is the first time that ob gene expression has been shown to increase steadily over a continuous wide range of body weight or plasma insulin in an animal model of obesity. Ob gene expression was significantly elevated in obese compared with lean Psammomys obesus (p < 0.05). No significant difference in ob gene expression was found between the four adipose tissue depots tested. Psammomys obesus plasma leptin levels correlated with body weight (r = 0.36, p < 0.05), percent body fat (r = 0.702, p < 0.01) and plasma insulin concentration (r = 0.735, p < 0.001). Plasma leptin concentrations were significantly increased in insulin-resistant animals independent of body weight. These results show that Psammomys obesus is an excellent animal model in which to study the ob gene and leptin, and confirm the importance of insulin as a significant factor in the regulation of leptin and ob gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-278
Number of pages7
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Structure and Expression
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • (Psammomys obesus)
  • Animal model
  • Leptin
  • Ob gene
  • Obesity

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