The Body Weight-related Differences of Leptin and Neuropeptide Y (NPY) Gene Expression in Pigs

  • Shan, Tizhong (Animal Science College, Zhejiang University, The Key Laboratory of Molecular Animal Nutrition Ministry of Education) ;
  • Wang, Yizhen (Animal Science College, Zhejiang University, The Key Laboratory of Molecular Animal Nutrition Ministry of Education) ;
  • Guo, Jia (Animal Science College, Zhejiang University, The Key Laboratory of Molecular Animal Nutrition Ministry of Education) ;
  • Chu, Xiaona (Animal Science College, Zhejiang University, The Key Laboratory of Molecular Animal Nutrition Ministry of Education) ;
  • Liu, Jianxin (Animal Science College, Zhejiang University, The Key Laboratory of Molecular Animal Nutrition Ministry of Education) ;
  • Xu, Zirong (Animal Science College, Zhejiang University, The Key Laboratory of Molecular Animal Nutrition Ministry of Education)
  • Received : 2007.05.11
  • Accepted : 2007.07.28
  • Published : 2008.02.01


To determine if body weight change is directly related to altered leptin and neuropeptide Y (NPY) gene expression, we assessed adipose tissue weight, percent body fat, leptin and NPY mRNA levels and serum leptin concentration in pigs at weights of 1, 20, 40, 60, and 90 kg. The results indicated that the weight of adipose tissues and the percent body fat of pigs significantly increased and correlated with body weight (BW) from 1 to 90 kg (p<0.01). Serum leptin concentrations and leptin mRNA levels in omental adipose tissue (OAT) increased from 1 to 60 kg, and then decreased from 60 to 90 kg. At 60 kg, the serum leptin concentration and leptin mRNA level significantly increased by 33.5% (p<0.01) and 98.2% (p<0.01), respectively, as compared with the levels at 1 kg. At 60 kg, the amount of leptin mRNA in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) was significantly higher than that of 1 and 40 kg animals (p<0.05). NPY gene expression in the hypothalamus also changed with BW and at 60 kg the NPY mRNA level significantly decreased by 54.0% (p< 0.05) as compared with that in 1 kg. Leptin mRNA in OAT was correlated with serum leptin concentrations (r = 0.98, p<0.01), body weight (r = 0.82, p<0.05) and percent body fat (r = 0.81, p<0.05). This is the first report of the developmental expression of leptin in porcine OAT, peritoneal adipose tissue (PAT) and SAT, and proves that the expression of leptin in OAT could reflect the levels of circulating leptin. These results provide some information for nutritional manipulation of leptin secretion which could lead to practical methods of controlling appetite and growth in farm animals, thereby regulating and improving efficiency of lean meat production and meat production quality.


Fat Deposition;Gene Expression;Leptin;Neuropeptide Y;Pig


  1. Souza, D. N., D. W. Pethick, F. R. Dunshea, D. Suster, J. R. Pluske and B. P. Mullan. 2004: The pattern if fat and lean muscle tissuedeposition differs in the different pork primal cuts of female pigs during the finisher growth phase. Livest. Prod. Sci. 91:1-8.
  2. Stephens, T. W. 1995. The role of neuropeptide Y in the antiobesity action of the obese gene product. Nature 377:530-532.
  3. Swart, I., J. M. Overton and T. A. Houpt, 2001. The effect of food deprivation and experimental diabetes on orexin and NPY mRNA levels. Peptides. 22:2175-2179.
  4. Wang, Y. Z., Y. J. Tu, F. F Han, Z. R. Xu and J. H. Wang. 2005. Developmental gene expression of lactoferrin and effect of dietary iron on gene regulation of lactoferrin in mouse mammary gland. J. Dairy Sci. 88(6):2065-2071.
  5. Gruenewald, D. A., B. T. Marck and A. M. Matsumoto. 1996. Fasting-induced increases in food intake and neuropeptide Y gene expression are attenuated in aging male brown Norway rats. Endocrinol. 137:4460-4467.
  6. Ji, S. Q., G. M. Wills, R. R. Scott and M. E. Spurlock. 1998. Partial cloning and expression of the bovine leptin gene. Anim. Biotechnol. 9(1):1-14.
  7. Li, H., M. Matheny, N. Tumer and P. J. Scarpace. 1998. Ageing and fasting regulation of leptin and hypothalamic neuropeptide Y gene expression. Am. J. Physiol. 275:405-401.
  8. Mann, D. R., M. A. Akinbami, K. G. Gould and V. D. Castracane. 2000. A longitudinal sStudy of leptin during development in the male rhesus monkey: the effect of body composition and season on circulating leptin levels. Biol. Reprod. 62:285-291.
  9. Meier, C. A. 1995. Advances in the understanding of the molecular basis of obesity. Eur. J. Endocrinol. 133:761-763.
  10. Morrison, C. D., J. A. Daniel, B. J. Holmberg, J. Djiane, N. Raver, A. Gertler and D. H. Keisler. 2001. Central infusion of leptin into well-fed and undernourished ewe lambs: effects on feed intake and serum concentrations of growth hormone and luteinizing hormone. J. Endocrinol. 168:317-324.
  11. Nogalska, A., A. Pankiewicz, E. Goyke and J. Sweirczynski. 2003. The age-related inverse relationship between ob and lipogenic enzymes genes expression in rat white adipose tissue. Exp. Gerontol. 38(4):415-422.
  12. Nogalska, A. and J. Swierczynski. 2001. The age-related differences in obese and fatty acid synthase gene expression in white adipose tissue of rat. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1533:73-80.
  13. Qian, H., C. R. Barb, M. M. Compton, G. J. Hausman, M. J. Azain, R. R. Kraeling and C. A. Baile. 1999. Leptin mRNA expression and serum leptin concentrations as influenced by age, weight, and estradiol in pigs. Domest. Anim. Endocrinol. 16(2):135-143.
  14. Schwartz, R. S. 1998: Obesity in the elderly (Ed. G. A. Bray, C. Bouchard and W. P. T. James). Handbook of obesity. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 103-114.
  15. Brockmann, G. A., J. Kratzsch, C. S Haley, U. Renne, M. Schwerin and S. Karle. 2000. Single QTL effects, epistasis, and pleiotropy account for two-thirds of the phenotypic F(2) variance of growth and obesity in DU6i$\times$DBA/2 mice. Genome Res. 10:1941-1957.
  16. Campfield, L. A., F. J. Smith, Y. Guisez, R. Devos and P. Burn. 1997. Recombinant mouse OB protein: evidence for a peripheral signal linking adiposity and central neural networks. Sci. 269:546-549.
  17. Chen, X. L., J. Lin, D. B. Hausman, R. J. Martin, R. G. Dean and G. J. Hausman. 2000. Alterations in fetal adipose tissue leptin expression correlate with the development of adipose tissue. Biol. Neonate 78(1):41-47.
  18. Cheong, H. S., D. H. Yoon, L. H. Kim, B. L. Park, E. R. Chung, H. J. Lee, I. C. Cheong, S. J. Oh and H. D. Shin. 2006. Leptin polymorphisms associated with carcass traits of meat in Korean cattle. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 19(11):1529-1535.
  19. Cunningham, M. J., D. K. Clifton and R. A. Steiner. 1999. Leptin's action on the reproductive axis: perspectives and mechanisms. Biol. Reprod. 60:216-222.
  20. Delavaud, C., F. Bocquier, Y. Chilliard, D. H. Keisler, A. Gertler and G. Kann. 2000. Plasma leptin determination in ruminants: effect of nutritional status and body fatness on plasma leptin concentration assessed by a specific RIA in sheep. J. Endocrinol. 165:519-526.
  21. Friedman, J. M. and J. L. Halaas. 1998. Leptin and the regulation of body weight in mammals. Nature 395:763-770.
  22. Garcia-Mayor, R. V., A. Andrade, M. Rios, M. Lage, C. Dieguez and F. F. Casanueva. 1997. Serum leptin levels in normal children: Relationship to age, gender, body mass index, pituitary-gonadal hormones, and pubertal stage. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 82:2849-2855.
  23. Barb, C. R., J. B. Barrett, R. R. Kraeling and G. B. Rampacek. 1999. Role of leptin in modulating neuroendocrine function: A metabolic link between the brain-pituitary and adipose tissue. Reprod. Domest. Anim. 34(3-4):111-125.
  24. Barb, C. R., G. J. Hausman and K. L. Houseknecht. 2001a. Biology of leptin in the pig. Domest. Anim. Endocrinol. 21(4):297-317.
  25. Barb, C. R., J. B. Barrett, R. R. Kraeling and G. B. Rampacek. 2001b. Serum leptin concentrations, luteinizing hormone and growth hormone secretion during feed and metabolic fuel restriction in the prepuberal gilt. Domest. Anim. Endocrinol. 20:47-63.
  26. Ahima, R. S. and J. S. Flier. 2000. Leptin. Annu. Rev. Physiol. 62:413-437.
  27. Barb, C. R. and J. B. Barrett. 2005. Neuropeptide Y modulates growth hormone but not luteinizing hormone secretion from prepuberal gilt anterior pituitary cells in culture. Domest. Anim. Endocrinol. 29(3):548-555.
  28. Blum, W. F., P. Englaro, S. Hanitsch, A. Juul, N. T. Hertel, J. Muller, N. E. Skakkebaek, M. L. Heiman, M. Birkett, A. M. Attanasio, W. Kiess and W. Rascher. 1997. Plasma leptin levels in healthy children and adolescents: dependence on body mass index, body fat mass, gender, pubertal stage, and testosterone. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 82:2904-2910.
  29. Dai, H. C., L. Q. Long, X. W. Zhang, W. M. Zhang and X. X. Wu. 2007. Cloning and expression of the duck leptin gene and the effect of leptin on food intake and fatty deposition in mice. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 20(6):850-855.
  30. Shin, S. C. and E. R. Chung. 2007. Association of SNP marker in the leptin gene with carcass and meat quality traits in Korean cattle. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 20(1):1-6.