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    Branched-chain amino acids, particularly leucine, are thought to activate nutrient sensing pathways in the hypothalamus that regulate food intake and energy homeostasis. In the light of recent controversial findings of leucine's effect on energy homeostasis further clarification of the metabolic impact of dietary leucine supplementation is required. We examined the pharmacological and dietary effects of leucine on energy metabolism in the Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus), a well-established model for studies of alterations in leptin sensitivity and energy metabolism. We acutely administered leucine into the lateral ventricle (1.1 μg) of hamsters to characterize whether leucine exhibits anorexigenic properties in this species as has been described in other rodents. Next the catabolic effect of dietary administered leucine via supplemented rodent diet (15 % leucine), drinking water (17 g/L leucine) and oral gavages (10 mg/day); as well as the effect of subcutaneously (0.1 and 3 mg/day) and intraperitoneally (0.1, 3 and 6 mg/day) injected leucine which avoids the gastrointestinal-track was analyzed. Centrally administered leucine reduced 24 h food intake (by 32 %) and body weight. Both parameters were also reduced in hamsters with leucine supplemented diet, but this catabolic response was based on a pronounced taste aversion to the leucine-diet. In all other experiments, dietary leucine and peripheral injections of leucine had no effect on food intake, body weight and basal blood glucose levels. Our data suggest that in the Djungarian hamster dietary leucine fails to exhibit catabolic effects that would override the evolutionary conserved adaptations of the species which is critical for its survival.


    Christiane E Koch, Simon Göddeke, Manon Krüger, Alexander Tups. Effect of central and peripheral leucine on energy metabolism in the Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus). Journal of comparative physiology. B, Biochemical, systemic, and environmental physiology. 2013 Feb;183(2):261-8

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    PMID: 22843139

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