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Neuropeptides. 2004 Dec;38(6):359-68.

Innate differences in neuropeptide Y (NPY) mRNA expression in discrete brain regions between alcohol-preferring (P) and -nonpreferring (NP) rats: a significantly low level of NPY mRNA in dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and absence of NPY mRNA in the medial habenular nucleus of P rats.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, 635 Barnhill Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


The neuropeptide Y (NPY) gene in rat chromosome 4 has been shown to play an important role in alcohol-seeking behavior. NPY knockout mice drink more alcohol than wild-type mice, implicating a link between NPY deficiency and high alcohol intake. This is supported by recent studies showing that intracerebroventricular injections of NPY reduce alcohol intake in both alcohol-preferring (P) and high alcohol-drinking rats. However, it is unknown which anatomical NPY systems are involved in alcohol preference. This study was designed to investigate whether there are innate differences in NPY mRNA in cerebral cortical areas, dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus and medial habenular nucleus (MHb) between P and alcohol-nonpreferring (NP) rats, as these discrete brain regions are rich in NPY mRNA. [(33)P]-labeled 28-mer oligodeoxynucleotide probe was applied for the in situ hybridization study to detect the NPY mRNA, measured using quantitative autoradiography. This study revealed an absence of NPY mRNA in the MHb of P rats. We found that NPY mRNA was significantly lower in the DG of P rats than NP rats. This innate difference of NPY mRNA expression in the DG between P and NP rats is region specific. For example, in most of the cerebral cortical areas examined, an innate difference was not seen. Our study suggests that lower NPY gene expression in the DG and MHb of P rats may be factors contributing to some of the phenotypic differences observed between the P and NP lines of rats.

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