The effects of wintertime undernutrition on plasma leptin and insulin levels in an arctic ruminant, the reindeer

Päivi Soppela, Seppo Saarela, Ulla Heiskari, Mauri Nieminen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


We examined the effects of prolonged undernutrition on plasma leptin and insulin levels and some serum protein metabolites in reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus L.) during winter and spring. The reindeer (male < 1 year) were fed their preferred winter feed, low-protein lichen ad libitum for 5 weeks, followed by 40% restriction of energy for 8 weeks and refeeding with high-protein pellets for 6 weeks. The control group received high-protein reindeer pellets ad libitum throughout the experiment. Plasma leptin decreased by 46% and insulin by 54% in the lichen group already during the ad libitum period between January and February, with parallel decreases in body weight, serum total proteins, albumin and urea. Leptin remained low during most of the energy restriction period in March and April, but increased at the end of April while body weight decreased. During the refeeding period in May and June, the body weight and insulin of the lichen group increased in parallel with total proteins and urea, but leptin remained unchanged. Similar significant reductions in plasma leptin (40%) as in the lichen group also took place in the control group fed high-protein pellets ad libitum in January and February, although their feed intake, serum total proteins and body weight remained unchanged. The results show that leptin decreases in reindeer during mid-winter, independent of food or protein intake, and suggest that the decrease may be cued by seasonal factors such as the short photoperiod.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-621
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2008
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Arctic
  • Body weight
  • Feed intake
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Reindeer
  • Ruminant
  • Season

Field of science

  • Genetics, developmental biology, physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'The effects of wintertime undernutrition on plasma leptin and insulin levels in an arctic ruminant, the reindeer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Citation for this output