Persistent Leptin Signaling in the Arcuate Nucleus Impairs Hypothalamic Insulin Signaling and Glucose Homeostasis in Obese Mice

Eglantine Balland, Weiyi Chen, Tony Tiganis, Michael A Cowley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Obesity is associated with reduced physiological responses to leptin and insulin, leading to the concept of obesity-associated hormonal resistance. Objectives: Here, we demonstrate that contrary to expectations, leptin signaling not only remains functional but also is constantly activated in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARH) neurons of obese mice. This state of persistent response to endogenous leptin underpins the lack of response to exogenous leptin. Methods and Results: The study of combined leptin and insulin signaling demonstrates that there is a common pool of ARH neurons responding to both hormones. More importantly, we show that the constant activation of leptin receptor neurons in the ARH prevents insulin signaling in these neurons, leading to impaired glucose tolerance. Accordingly, antagonising leptin signaling in diet-induced obese (DIO) mice restores insulin signaling in the ARH and improves glucose homeostasis. Direct inhibition of PTP1B in the CNS restores arcuate insulin signaling similarly to leptin inhibition; this effect is likely to be mediated by AgRP neurons since PTP1B deletion specifically in AgRP neurons restores glucose and insulin tolerance in DIO mice. Conclusions: Finally, our results suggest that the constant activation of arcuate leptin signaling in DIO mice increases PTP1B expression, which exerts an inhibitory effect on insulin signaling leading to impaired glucose homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-390
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2019


  • diabetes
  • hypothalamus
  • insulin resistance
  • leptin
  • obesity

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