Design of a synthetic leptin agonist: effects on energy balance, glucose homeostasis, and thermoregulation.


Rozhavskaya-Arena M, Lee DW, Leinung MC






We have previously reported that a synthetic peptide amide corresponding to amino acid residues 116-130 of mouse leptin, LEP- (116-130), reduces body weight gain, food intake, and blood glucose levels in ob/ob and db/db mice. In the present study we show that the activity of LEP-(116-130) resides in a restricted sequence between amino acid residues 116-122. A synthetic peptide corresponding to this sequence (Ser-Cys-Ser-Leu-Pro-Gln-Thr) has been named OB3. Single point D-amino acid substitution was used to study the structure-function relationship of each residue in OB3. D-Amino acid analogs of OB3 were synthesized by the solid phase method, purified to 98+%, and administered (1 mg/day, ip) for 7 days to female C57BL/6J ob/ob mice. The effects of the peptides on body weight gain, food and water intake, glucose homeostasis, and thermoregulation were assessed. In most cases, the efficacy of OB3 on all parameters tested was reduced by substitution of an L-amino acid with its corresponding D-isoform. A statistically significant increase (2.6-fold) in the weight-reducing effect of OB3, however, was observed by inversion of the configuration of the leucine residue at position 4 (Leu-4) of OB3 by substitution with its D-amino acid isoform [D-Leu-4]. Compared with OB3, mice treated with [D-Leu-4]-OB3 consumed 7.9% less food and 16.5% less water. Blood glucose was normalized to levels comparable to those in wild-type control mice within 2 days after initiation of [D-Leu-4]-OB3 treatment. Unlike native leptin, however, neither OB3 nor any of its D-amino acid-substituted analogs had any apparent effect on thermogenesis. Our results indicate that synthetic peptide strategies may be useful in the development of potent and stabile pharmacophores with potential therapeutic significance in the treatment of human obesity and its related metabolic dysfunctions.