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Physiol Behav. 2007 Nov 23;92(4):691-701. Epub 2007 May 21.

Lentivirus-mediated downregulation of hypothalamic insulin receptor expression.

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Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, United States.


Regulation of feeding behavior and energy balance are among the central effects of insulin. For example, intracerebroventricular administration of insulin decreases food intake and body weight, whereas antisense oligodeoxynucleotide downregulation of insulin receptors (IRs) produces hyperphagia. To further examine the role of IRs in the central actions of insulin, we designed an IR antisense lentiviral vector (LV-IRAS) and injected this vector into the third ventricle to selectively decrease IR expression in the rat hypothalamus. Three weeks after LV-IRAS administration, the expression of IRs in the hypothalamus was significantly decreased, whereas no changes were observed in hippocampal IR levels. LV-IRAS administration decreased insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of hypothalamic IRs and translocation of the insulin-sensitive glucose transporter GLUT4 in the hypothalamus; no changes in IR signaling were observed in the hippocampus of LV-IRAS-treated rats. Lentivirus-mediated downregulation of IR expression and signaling produced significant increases in body weight, as well as increases in fat mass that were selective for the subcutaneous compartment. Conversely, lean muscle mass and water mass were not affected in LV-IRAS-treated rats compared to rats treated with control virus. Changes in peripheral adiposity were associated with increases in basal hypothalamic leptin signaling in the absence of changes in leptin receptor expression in LV-IRAS rats. Collectively, these data illustrate the important functional relationships between hypothalamic insulin and leptin signaling in the regulation of body composition and provide insight into the mechanisms through which decreases in IR expression and signaling dysregulates leptin activity, thereby promoting increases in peripheral adiposity.

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