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Behav Brain Res. 1986 Dec;22(3):265-81.

Effect of paraventricular nucleus lesions on body weight, food intake and insulin levels.


Lesions of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) produce obesity and hyperphagia. However, the underlying mechanism is unknown. The connections of the PVN with brainstem centers for autonomic control suggest that a change in autonomic function could mediate the PVN obesity syndrome. We examined this hypothesis in a series of 3 experiments, searching specifically for changes in insulin secretion. Rats with PVN lesions were hyperphagic and hyperinsulinemic, when obese. However, hyperinsulinemia could not be detected prior to the onset of obesity or following weight reduction. Subdiaphragmatic vagotomy reversed the PVN obesity and lowered insulin levels below those of sham-vagotomized rats. Since noradrenergic innervation of the hypothalamus is implicated in feeding, hypothalamic norepinephrine (NE) was depleted by injection of 6-hydroxydopamine into the central tegmental tract, posterior to the hypothalamus. The effects of NE depletion was compared with those of PVN lesions. Loss of hypothalamic NE resulted in hyperphagia with no increase in body weight and no change in insulin. Histological analyses indicated that the posterior PVN was the most effective lesion focus for producing disturbances in body weight and food intake. Although the results of these experiments implicate the autonomic nervous system in PVN obesity, basal hyperinsulinemia does not appear to be a primary feature of the syndrome.

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