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Brain Res Bull. 1993;31(3-4):361-7.

Differential effect of fasting on hypothalamic expression of genes encoding neuropeptide Y, galanin, and glutamic acid decarboxylase.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.


The effect of caloric deprivation to stimulate hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (NPY) gene expression is hypothesized to represent a physiologically important adaptation in body weight homeostasis. To evaluate the specificity of this response, we used in situ hybridization histochemistry to measure hypothalamic expression of mRNA encoding NPY, galanin, and the two isoforms of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67 and GAD65) in male Wistar rats either fed ad lib or deprived of food for 24 or 48 h. As expected, food deprivation for 24 and 48 h increased preproNPY mRNA levels in the arcuate nucleus by 43 +/- 13% (p = NS) and 127 +/- 29% (p < 0.05 vs. both fed and 24-h fasted groups) when compared to ad lib-fed controls, and hypothalamic preproNPY mRNA levels were significantly correlated to the percent change in body weight over the three groups of rats (r = -0.72; p < 0.05). In contrast, no significant effects of either 24 or 48 h of fasting were observed on hypothalamic levels of preprogalanin, GAD67, or GAD65 mRNA, and no relationship between percent change in body weight and expression of any of these mRNA species could be demonstrated. In conclusion, fasting increases preproNPY mRNA levels in the arcuate nucleus but does not alter expression of other hypothalamic mRNA species pertinent to feeding behavior. This supports the hypothesis that stimulation of NPY gene expression represents an important component of the hypothalamic response to caloric deprivation.

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