This study examines the effect of long-term ICV administration of leptin in ewes. We found that central application significantly decreased osteoblast activity as measured by serum analysis as well as by histomorphometry, resulting in decreased trabecular bone volume. These data provide additional evidence that bone formation and therefore bone remodeling is at least in part centrally controlled.
Introduction: Genetic studies in mice have identified leptin as a potent inhibitor of bone formation acting through the central nervous system and unraveled the central nature of bone mass control and its disorders. Although these studies have radically enhanced our understanding of skeletal physiology because they have established a hypothalamic regulation of bone remodeling through the sympathetic nervous system, controversy remains about the physiological relevance of these observations because leptin's effect on bone after intracerebroventricular (ICV) application has only been shown in mice. To address whether leptin has a role in regulating bone mass beyond rodents, we treated ewes with long-term ICV application of leptin and analyzed the bone phenotype after a treatment period of 3 months.
Materials and Methods: Three groups of corriedale sheep were compared: (1) control entire (control), (2) ovariectomy (OVX) and ICV application of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); and (iii) OVX and ICV application of leptin (leptin). Analysis included histomorphometric characterization of iliac crest, spine and femur by histology and biomechanical testing and measurement of bone turnover parameters in serum and urine.
Results: Central application of leptin decreased bone formation by 70% and mineralizing surface (MS/BS, 39.4 ± 3.3% versus 16.1 ± 2.1%) significantly (p < 0.01). Whereas OVX increased osteoclast indices and urinary cross-lap excretion by two and three times, respectively, serum parameters of osteoblast activity were significantly reduced by ICV application of leptin (p < 0.01). Consequently, ewes treated with leptin were osteopenic (iliac crest BV/TV entire, 22.7 ± 1.3%; CSF, 18.9 ± 2.4%; leptin, 12.4 ± 2.6%), whereas bone torsional failure load reflecting the cortex of the tibia was not yet changed after 3 months of treatment (p < 0.01).
Conclusions: Taken together, these data suggest that leptin controls bone formation after ICV application, leading to reduction of trabecular bone mass in sheep. Most importantly, however, they show that the central regulation of bone formation is not limited to rodents, but is also found in large animals, providing further evidence that bone remodeling in vertebrates is centrally controlled.