Leptin suppresses semi-starvation induced hyperactivity in rats: Implications for anorexia nervosa

C. Exner, J. Hebebrand, H. Remschmidt, C. Wewetzer, A. Ziegler, S. Herpertz, U. Schweiger, W. F. Blum, G. Preibisch, G. Heldmaier, M. Klingenspor*

*Corresponding author for this work
159 Citations (Scopus)


Semi-starvation induced hyperactivity (SIH) occurs in rodents upon caloric restriction. We hypothesized that SIH is triggered by the decline in leptin secretion associated with food restriction. To test this hypothesis, rats, which had established a stable level of activity, were treated with leptin or vehicle via implanted minipumps concomitantly to initiation of food restriction for 7 days. In a second experiment treatment was initiated after SIH had already set in. In contrast to the vehicle-treated rats, which increased their baseline activity level by 300%, the development of SIH was suppressed by leptin. Furthermore, leptin was able to stop SIH, after it had set in. These results underscore the assumed major role of leptin in the adaptation to semi-starvation. Because SIH has been viewed as a model for anorexia nervosa, we also assessed subjective ratings of motor restlessness in 30 patients with this eating disorder in the emaciated state associated with hypoleptinemia and after increments in leptin secretion brought upon by therapeutically induced weight gain. Hypoleptinemic patients ranked their motor restlessness higher than upon attainment of their maximal leptin level during inpatient treatment. Thus, hypoleptinemia might also contribute to the hyperactivity frequently associated with anorexia nervosa.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)476-481
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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