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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Jan;292(1):R217-26. Epub 2006 Aug 24.

Striatal opioid peptide gene expression differentially tracks short-term satiety but does not vary with negative energy balance in a manner opposite to hypothalamic NPY.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, 6001 Research Park Blvd., Madison, WI 53719, USA.


It has long been known that central opioid systems play an important role in certain aspects of appetite and food intake, particularly with regard to the hedonic or rewarding impact of calorically dense food, such as fat and sugar. Ventral striatal enkephalin may be a key component of this system, as infusions of mu-opiate agonists into this region strongly increase feeding, whereas infusions of opiate antagonists decrease food intake. While pharmacological analysis has consistently supported such a role, direct measurement of enkephalin gene expression in relation to differing food motivational conditions has not been examined. In this study, the effects of a restricted laboratory chow diet (resulting in negative energy balance) as well has recent consumption of chow (short-term satiety) on striatal preproenkephalin (PPE) and prodynorphin (PD) mRNA expression were measured in rats, using both Northern blot analysis and in situ hybridization methods. As a comparison, hypothalamic (arcuate nucleus) neuropeptide Y (NPY) was also measured in these conditions. PPE expression was broadly downregulated throughout the striatum in animals that had recently consumed a meal, whereas it was unaffected by negative energy balance. Expression of an additional striatal peptide gene, PD, did not follow this pattern, although diet restriction caused a decrease in accumbens core dynorphin mRNA. Conversely, as expected, arcuate nucleus NPY mRNA expression was markedly upregulated by negative energy balance, but was unchanged by recent food consumption. This double dissociation between striatal and hypothalamic peptide systems suggests a specific role for striatal PPE in relatively short-term food motivational states, but not in long-term metabolic responses to diet restriction.

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