Although the antidiabetic effects of leptin require intact neuronal melanocortin signaling in rodents with uncontrolled diabetes (uDM), increased melanocortin signaling is not sufficient to mimic leptin's glucose-lowering effects. The current studies were undertaken to clarify the role of melanocortin signaling in leptin's ability to correct metabolic and neuroendocrine disturbances associated with uDM. To accomplish this, bilateral cannulae were implanted in the lateral ventricle of rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes, and leptin was coinfused with varying doses of the melanocortin 3/4 receptor (MC3/4R) antagonist, SHU9119. An additional cohort of streptozotocininduced diabetes rats received intracerebroventricular administration of either the MC3/4R agonist, melanotan-II, or its vehicle. Consistent with previous findings, leptin's glucose-lowering effects were blocked by intracerebroventricular SHU9119. In contrast, leptin-mediated suppression of hyperglucagonemia involves both melanocortin dependent and independent mechanisms, and the degree of glucagon inhibition was associated with reduced plasma ketone body levels. Increased central nervous system melanocortin signaling alone fails to mimic leptin's ability to correct any of the metabolic or neuroendocrine disturbances associated with uDM. Moreover, the inability of increased melanocortin signaling to lower diabetic hyperglycemia does not appear to be secondary to release of the endogenous MC3/4R inverse agonist, Agouti-related peptide (AgRP), because AgRP knockout mice did not show increased susceptibility to the antidiabetic effects of increased MC3/4R signaling. Overall, these data suggest that 1) AgRP is not a major driver of diabetic hyperglycemia, 2) mechanisms independent of melanocortin signaling contribute to leptin's antidiabetic effects, and 3) melanocortin receptor blockade dissociates leptin's glucose-lowering effect from its actiononother features of uDM, including reversal of hyperglucagonemia and ketosis, suggesting that brain control of ketosis, but not blood glucose levels, is glucagon dependent.
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