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Neuroscience. 2005;132(1):167-73.

Differential effects of methamphetamine on expression of neuropeptide Y mRNA in hypothalamus and on serum leptin and ghrelin concentrations in ad libitum-fed and schedule-fed rats.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, College of Pharmacy, 30 South 2000 East, Room 201, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


Relatively little is known concerning the interaction of psychostimulants with hypothalamic neuropeptide systems or metabolic hormones implicated in regulation of energy balance. The present studies tested whether methamphetamine alters the expression of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related peptide (AgRP), two important orexigenic neuropeptides, or proopiomelanocortin (POMC), the precursor for the anorexigenic peptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, or the secretion of leptin, insulin and ghrelin, concomitant with inhibition of food intake. Female rats were either fed ad libitum (AL) or placed on a scheduled feeding (SF) regimen, with access to food limited to 4 h/day. Administration of (+/-)-methamphetamine (7.5 mg/kg, i.p.) 2 h prior to food presentation significantly inhibited food intake in SF animals, but did not affect intake in AL animals. In a separate study, AL and SF animals were killed just prior to expected food presentation, and expression of NPY, AgRP and POMC mRNAs in hypothalamus was determined using in situ hybridisation; concentrations of leptin, insulin and ghrelin in serum were determined with radioimmunoassays. In saline-treated, SF controls, NPY and AgRP mRNA expression in arcuate nucleus and serum ghrelin were significantly elevated, and serum leptin and insulin were significantly reduced. Methamphetamine reversed the up-regulation of NPY mRNA expression observed in the SF condition, without affecting AgRP mRNA or the serum concentrations of metabolic hormones. However, in AL animals, NPY mRNA expression in arcuate and dorsomedial nuclei was significantly increased by methamphetamine, which also reduced serum leptin and insulin and increased serum ghrelin concentrations. These findings suggest that the inhibition of NPY expression in SF animals may be a mechanism underlying the anorexigenic effect of methamphetamine seen in this condition. The increase in NPY expression produced by methamphetamine in AL animals may be mediated by the ability of this drug to decrease secretion of leptin and insulin and increase secretion of ghrelin.

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