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Endocrinology. 1999 Jun;140(6):2868-75.

Daily changes in hypothalamic gene expression of neuropeptide Y, galanin, proopiomelanocortin, and adipocyte leptin gene expression and secretion: effects of food restriction.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville 32610-0244, USA.


The participation of hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (NPY)-, galanin (GAL)-, and opioid-producing neurons in the restraint on food intake exerted by adipocyte leptin has recently been recognized. To further understand the interplay between the central appetite-stimulating- and peripheral appetite-inhibiting signals in the management of daily food intake, we have examined the daily patterns in expression of the hypothalamic neuropeptides and leptin receptor (R) and adipocyte leptin gene expression and secretion in freely feeding (FF) rats. These analyses were extended to determine the impact of food restriction (FR) to 4 h daily for 4 weeks. Groups of FF and FR rats were killed at 4-h intervals during a 24-h period, and hypothalamic NPY, GAL, POMC, and leptin-R gene expression and leptin gene expression were evaluated by RNase protection assays and serum leptin and corticosterone (CORT) levels were estimated by RIA. The following new findings emerged: 1) In FF rats, hypothalamic NPY messenger RNA (mRNA) levels fluctuated during the course of 24 h with high levels at 0700 h and 1100 h followed by a decrease at 1500 h during the lights-on phase that was sustained throughout the dark phase (1900 h-0500 h) of the light-dark cycle. Hypothalamic GAL and POMC mRNA also displayed daily patterns but with a different time course; GAL and POMC gene expression were elevated 4 h later than NPY mRNA at 1100 h and 1500 h. 2) Although FR to 4 h between 1100 h and 1500 h resulted in maintenance of body weight compared with a steady weight gain in FF rats, the daily patterns of fluctuations in hypothalamic neuropeptide gene expression were abolished. 3) In FF rats, hypothalamic leptin-R and adipocyte leptin gene expression and serum leptin levels displayed a daily pattern temporally different from that of hypothalamic neuropeptide gene expression. Adipocyte leptin mRNA remained low during the lights-on phase but increased at the onset of the lights-off phase (1900 h) and remained elevated through the dark phase. 4) Hypothalamic leptin-R gene expression, like that of adipocyte leptin gene expression, rose abruptly at the onset of nocturnal feeding behavior but receded progressively to low range thereafter. 5) On the other hand, a dichotomy in the daily rise in adipocyte leptin gene expression and leptin secretion was observed in FF rats. Unlike adipocyte leptin mRNA, serum leptin increased at 2300 h, 4 h after initiation of ingestive behavior. 6) In FR rats, adipocyte leptin gene expression fluctuated little over the 24-h period but, as in FF rats, leptin hypersecretion peaked 4 h after initiation of food intake. 7) In both FF and FR rats, increased serum CORT levels preceded serum leptin rise. Overall, these results show that in FF rats, gene expression of hypothalamic appetite stimulating peptides first rise and then fall to nadir during the lights-on phase when leptin levels are in low range; adipocyte leptin mRNA rises before impending ingestive behavior and increased leptin secretion reaching peak manifests itself during nocturnal feeding. The FR regimen, which curtailed the normal body weight gain, abolished these daily fluctuations in gene expression of hypothalamic orexigenic peptides and adipocyte leptin but permitted feeding-associated increased leptin secretion. Thus, it may be important to consider the daily patterns of gene expression and availability of hypothalamic orexigenic peptides in investigations aimed at elucidating the central mechanisms underlying the feedback action of the normal and altered leptin secretion patterns.

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