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Endocrinology. 2007 Nov;148(11):5331-8. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Pro-opiomelanocortin modulates the thermogenic and physical activity responses to high-fat feeding and markedly influences dietary fat preference.

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Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.


Complete proopiomelanocortin (POMC) deficiency causes a human syndrome of hypoadrenalism, altered skin and hair pigmentation, and severe hyperphagic obesity. Heterozygote carriers of nonsense mutations are strongly predisposed to obesity. Pomc(+/-) mice have normal body weight on a chow diet but increase food intake and become more obese than wild-type littermates when placed on a high-fat diet. To further explore the mechanisms whereby dietary fat interacts with Pomc genotype to produce obesity, we examined Pomc-null, Pomc(+/-), and wild-type mice for changes in the components of energy balance in response to provision of a high-fat diet and macronutrient preference when presented with a selection of dietary choices. In contrast to wild-type mice, Pomc null mice did not increase their resting energy expenditure or their spontaneous physical activity when given a high-fat diet. Pomc(+/-) mice increased resting energy expenditure similarly to wild types, but their increase in physical activity was significantly less than that seen in wild-type mice. In two independent experimental tests of macronutrient preference, Pomc genotype was a strong predictor of dietary fat preference with Pomc null animals choosing to eat approximately twice as much fat, but similar amounts of carbohydrate and protein, as wild-type animals. Pomc(+/-) mice showed an intermediate response. In summary, POMC-derived peptides have influences on multiple aspects of the organism's response to the presentation of high-fat diet. This includes a major influence, readily discernible even in heterozygote animals, on the dietary preference for fat.

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