Serum leptin and its adipose gene expression during pubertal development, the estrous cycle, and different seasons in cattle.
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Circulating concentrations of leptin and IGF-I, leptin gene expression, and serum binding of [126I]ovine leptin in cattle during pubertal development, as well as leptin gene expression and circulating concentrations of leptin during the estrous cycle and different calendar seasons, were investigated. Multivariate regression analysis was utilized to evaluate temporal changes in BW, leptin mRNA, and serum concentrations of IGF-I and leptin normalized to the week of puberty (Exp. 1). Body weight accounted for most of the variation associated with the onset of puberty in the full regression model (R2 = 0.99; P < 0.01). However, serum leptin was closely related to changes in BW (r = 0.85; P < 0.02) and in the absence of BW was most predictive of pubertal onset (r2 = 0.73; P < 0.01). Mean concentrations of leptin increased (P < 0.0001) linearly from 16 wk before until the wk of pubertal ovulation in yearling heifers reaching sexual maturation from early spring to midsummer. Leptin mRNA transformed to a percent of the value at puberty increased (P < 0.02) as puberty approached, but serum leptin and leptin mRNA values were not well correlated. We found no evidence of leptin-binding proteins in serum of developing heifers. Combined mean serum concentrations of IGF-I (ng/mL) during periods III and IV (-9 wk to wk of puberty; 216.6 +/- 9) were 21% higher (P < 0.0001) than combined mean concentrations of IGF-I during periods I and II (-19 to wk of puberty; 193 +/- 10). In mature heifers and cows (Exp. 2), serum leptin tended to decrease (P = 0.10) during the late luteal/early follicular phase of the estrous cycle, which corresponded to a reduction (P < 0.03) in adipocyte leptin gene expression. In mature ovariectomized cows, serum concentrations of leptin increased (P < 0.001) by 34% from early winter to the summer solstice and remained unchanged throughout the remainder of the year (Exp. 3). Results from these studies indicate that marked increases in both circulating leptin and leptin gene expression occur in developing heifers during pubertal development and are associated with increases in serum IGF-I and BW. Seasonal effects on circulating leptin observed in mature cows from winter to summer could also plausibly account for a portion of the prepubertal rise in serum leptin observed in heifers.