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J Neurosci. 1999 Aug 15;19(16):7130-9.

Changes in neuropeptide Y receptors and pro-opiomelanocortin in the anorexia (anx/anx) mouse hypothalamus.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


The pro-opiomelanocortinergic (POMCergic) system originating in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus extends projections widely over the brain and has been shown to be intricately linked and parallel to the arcuate neuropeptide Y (NPY) system. Both NPY and POMC-derived peptides (melanocortins) have been strongly implicated in the control of feeding behavior, with the former exerting orexigenic effects and the latter having anorexigenic properties. Mice homozygous for the lethal anorexia (anx) mutation are hypophagic, emaciated, and exhibit anomalous processing of NPY exclusively in the arcuate nucleus, providing an interesting model to study NPY-POMC interactions. In the present study, several morphological markers were used to investigate the histochemistry and morphology of the POMC system in anx/anx mice. In situ hybridization demonstrated decreased numbers of POMC mRNA-expressing neurons in the anx/anx arcuate nucleus. In parallel, mRNA levels for both the NPY Y1 and Y5 receptors, which are expressed in POMC neurons, were decreased. Also, expression of the NPY Y2 autoreceptor was attenuated. Immunohistochemistry using antibodies against adrenocorticotropic hormone to demonstrate POMC cell bodies, against alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone to demonstrate axonal projections and against the NPY Y1 receptor to demonstrate dendritic arborizations, showed strikingly decreased immunoreactivities for all these markers. The present data suggest that degeneration of the arcuate POMC system is a feature characteristic of the anx/anx mouse. The possible relationship to the NPYergic phenotype of this animal is discussed.

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