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Horm Behav. 2008 Feb;53(2):342-50. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2007.10.013. Epub 2007 Nov 17.

Neuropeptide Y influences acute food intake and energy status affects NPY immunoreactivity in the female musk shrew (Suncus murinus).

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, PO Box 800733, VA 22908, USA.


Neuropeptide Y (NPY) stimulates feeding, depresses sexual behavior, and its expression in the brain is modulated by energetic status. We examined the role of NPY in female musk shrews, a species with high energetic and reproductive demands; they store little fat, and small changes in energy can rapidly diminish or enhance sexual receptivity. Intracerebroventricular infusion of NPY enhanced acute food intake in shrews; however, NPY had little affect on sexual receptivity. The distribution of NPY immunoreactivity in the female musk shrew brain was unremarkable, but energy status differentially affected NPY immunoreactivity in several regions. Similar to what has been noted in other species, NPY immunoreactivity was less dense in brains of ad libitum shrews and greater in shrews subjected to food restriction. In two midbrain regions, both of which contain high levels of gonadotropin releasing hormone II (GnRH II), which has anorexigenic actions in shrews, NPY immunoreactivity was more sensitive to changes in food intake. In these regions, acute re-feeding (90-180 min) after food restriction reduced NPY immunoreactivity to levels noted in ad libitum shrews. We hypothesize that interactions between NPY and GnRH II maintain energy homeostasis and reproduction in the musk shrew.

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