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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Apr 15;306(8):E904-15. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00540.2013. Epub 2014 Feb 11.

Temporal changes in nutritional state affect hypothalamic POMC peptide levels independently of leptin in adult male mice.

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Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan;


Hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons constitute a critical anorexigenic node in the central nervous system (CNS) for maintaining energy balance. These neurons directly affect energy expenditure and feeding behavior by releasing bioactive neuropeptides but are also subject to signals directly related to nutritional state such as the adipokine leptin. To further investigate the interaction of diet and leptin on hypothalamic POMC peptide levels, we exposed 8- to 10-wk-old male POMC-Discosoma red fluorescent protein (DsRed) transgenic reporter mice to either 24-48 h (acute) or 2 wk (chronic) food restriction, high-fat diet (HFD), or leptin treatment. Using semiquantitative immunofluorescence and radioimmunoassays, we discovered that acute fasting and chronic food restriction decreased the levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), and β-endorphin in the hypothalamus, together with decreased DsRed fluorescence, compared with control ad libitum-fed mice. Furthermore, acute but not chronic HFD or leptin administration selectively increased α-MSH levels in POMC fibers and increased DsRed fluorescence in POMC cell bodies. HFD and leptin treatments comparably increased circulating leptin levels at both time points, suggesting that transcription of Pomc and synthesis of POMC peptide products are not modified in direct relation to the concentration of plasma leptin. Our findings indicate that negative energy balance persistently downregulated POMC peptide levels, and this phenomenon may be partially explained by decreased leptin levels, since these changes were blocked in fasted mice treated with leptin. In contrast, sustained elevation of plasma leptin by HFD or hormone supplementation did not significantly alter POMC peptide levels, indicating that enhanced leptin signaling does not chronically increase Pomc transcription and peptide synthesis.


arcuate nucleus; energy homeostasis; hypothalamus; leptin; metabolism; neural networks; obesity; proopiomelanocortin; proopiomelanocortin neurons

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