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Peptides. 1992 Nov-Dec;13(6):1097-102.

Peripheral insulin administration attenuates the increase in neuropeptide Y concentrations in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus of fasted rats.

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Department of Medicine, University of Liverpool, UK.


Fasting increases neuropeptide Y (NPY) concentrations in the arcuate nucleus (ARC), its site of synthesis, and in other regions of the rat hypothalamus. Neuropeptide Y is a potent central orexigenic agent and may therefore stimulate appetite during fasting. We tested the hypothesis that low plasma insulin levels stimulate ARC levels of NPY in fasted rats. Compared with freely fed controls (n = 8), rats fasted for 72 h (n = 8) showed significantly lower plasma insulin levels (28.9 +/- 1.6 vs. 52.6 +/- 5.7 pmol/l; p < 0.001) and higher ARC NPY concentrations (14.2 +/- 1.8 vs. 8.4 +/- 2.2 fmol/micrograms protein; p < 0.001). Fasted rats treated with subcutaneous insulin (5 U/kg/day; n = 10), which nearly normalized plasma insulin (46.6 +/- 2.8 pmol/l), showed intermediate ARC NPY levels (11.2 +/- 1.4 fmol/micrograms protein; p < 0.01 vs. controls and untreated fasted rats). Insulin administered peripherally, therefore, attenuates fasting-induced NPY increases in the ARC, supporting the hypothesis that hypoinsulinemia stimulates hypothalamic NPY.

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