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Neuroendocrinology. 2004;79(6):317-26. Epub 2004 Jul 15.

Peptide YY directly inhibits ghrelin-activated neurons of the arcuate nucleus and reverses fasting-induced c-Fos expression.

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Institute of Veterinary Physiology, University of Zurich, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.


The hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (Arc) monitors and integrates hormonal and metabolic signals involved in the maintenance of energy homeostasis. The orexigenic peptide ghrelin is secreted from the stomach during negative status of energy intake and directly activates neurons of the medial arcuate nucleus (ArcM) in rats. In contrast to ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY) is released postprandially from the gut and reduces food intake when applied peripherally. Neurons in the ArcM express ghrelin receptors and neuropeptide Y receptors. Thus, PYY may inhibit feeding by acting on ghrelin-sensitive Arc neurons. Using extracellular recordings, we (1) characterized the effects of PYY on the electrical activity of ghrelin-sensitive neurons in the ArcM of rats. In order to correlate the effect of PYY on neuronal activity with the energy status, we (2) investigated the ability of PYY to reverse fasting-induced c-Fos expression in Arc neurons of mice. In addition, we (3) sought to confirm that PYY reduces food intake under our experimental conditions. Superfusion of PYY reversibly inhibited 94% of all ArcM neurons by a direct postsynaptic mechanism. The PYY-induced inhibition was dose-dependent and occurred at a threshold concentration of 10(-8)M. Consistent with the opposite effects of ghrelin and PYY on food intake, a high percentage (50%) of Arc neurons was activated by ghrelin and inhibited by PYY. In line with this inhibitory action, peripherally injected PYY partly reversed the fasting-induced c-Fos expression in Arc neurons of mice. Similarly, refeeding of food-deprived mice reversed the fasting-induced activation in the Arc. Furthermore, peripherally injected PYY reduced food intake in 12-hour fasted mice. Thus the activity of Arc neurons correlated with the feeding status and was not only reduced by feeding but also by administration of PYY in non-refed mice. In conclusion, our current observations suggest that PYY may contribute to signaling a positive status of energy intake by inhibiting Arc neurons, which are activated under a negative status of energy intake by signals such as ghrelin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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