Meal ingestion increases body temperature in multiple species, an effect that is blunted by obesity. However, the mechanisms responsible for these phenomena remain incompletely understood. Here we show that refeeding increases plasma leptin concentrations approximately 8-fold in 48-hour-fasted lean rats, and this normalization of plasma leptin concentrations stimulates adrenomedullary catecholamine secretion. Increased adrenal medulla–derived plasma catecholamines were necessary and sufficient to increase body temperature postprandially, a process that required both fatty acids generated from adipose tissue lipolysis and β-adrenergic activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT). Diet-induced obese rats, which remained relatively hyperleptinemic while fasting, did not exhibit fasting-induced reductions in temperature. To examine the impact of feeding-induced increases in body temperature on energy balance, we compared rats fed chronically by either 2 carbohydrate-rich boluses daily or a continuous isocaloric intragastric infusion. Bolus feeding increased body temperature and reduced weight gain compared with continuous feeding, an effect abrogated by treatment with atenolol. In summary, these data demonstrate that leptin stimulates a hypothalamus–adrenal medulla–BAT axis, which is necessary and sufficient to induce lipolysis and, as a result, increase body temperature after refeeding.
Rachel J. Perry, Kun Lyu, Aviva Rabin-Court, Jianying Dong, Xiruo Li, Yunfan Yang, Hua Qing, Andrew Wang, Xiaoyong Yang, Gerald I. Shulman