The mechanism of action of leptin in pregnant breeding sows, in which hyperphagia is managed through dietary strategies, is yet to be clarified. The aim of this study was to monitor leptin concentrations and their interactions with lactogenic hormones in Large White×Landrace breeding multiparous sows (n=15). All sows showed a normal body condition (mean body condition score: 2.96). Blood samples were collected the day after weaning the litters, at insemination, every 15 days up to day 45 of pregnancy and every 7 days from day 46 to farrowing. At delivery, the placenta was collected for the analysis of leptin and leptin receptor expressions. Plasma leptin levels increased from the end of mid gestation (day 72) and remained high until farrowing (P<0.05). As expected, plasma prolactin (PRL), low during most of pregnancy, increased during the 2 weeks before farrowing (P<0.05), whereas progesterone levels reached plateau at 30 days of gestation and decreased at farrowing (P<0.05). Cortisol levels peaked close to farrowing (P<0.05). Leptin was expressed in the placenta, where the receptor expression analysis showed the presence of the short form but not of the long form. A positive correlation was found between leptin and PRL concentrations during mid (r=0.430; P<0.001) and late (r=0.687; P<0.001) pregnancy, and with progesterone in early pregnancy (r=0.462; P<0.05). During late gestation, a positive correlation was observed between leptin and cortisol (r=0.585; P<0.001). Our results suggested that, in restrictively fed pregnant sows, the leptin levels increased from the end of mid pregnancy to delivery, confirming the presence of leptin resistance. We showed a correlation between leptin and lactogenic hormones during different stages of pregnancy in sows. Lactogenic hormones show pregnancy-specific changes in their secretion and all may become involved in modulating leptin signal.
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