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J Neurosci. 2002 Oct 15;22(20):9048-52.

The catabolic action of insulin in the brain is mediated by melanocortins.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0559, USA.


Like leptin, the pancreatic hormone insulin is an important adiposity signal to the brain. We report that the hypothalamic melanocortin system is an important target of the actions of insulin to regulate food intake and body weight. Hypothalamic neurons expressing insulin receptors were found to coexpress the melanocortin precursor molecule pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), and administration of insulin into the third cerebral ventricle of fasted rats increased expression of POMC mRNA. Finally, a subthreshold dose of the melanocortin antagonist SHU-9119 prevented the reduction in food intake caused by third-ventricular insulin administration. These data suggest that the hypothalamic melanocortin system mediates the anorexic effects of central insulin, as well as of leptin.

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