Glucocorticoids are Required for Food Deprivation‐Induced Increases in Hypothalamic Neuropeptide Y Expression

Patricia Ponsalle, Laxmi S. Srivastava, Rosalie M. Uht, Jeffrey D. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Neuropeptide Y (NPY), a 36 amino‐acid peptide found within the hypothalamus, is thought to be an important regulator of food intake. Hypothalamic NPY gene expression, synthesis and secretion are all known to be increased in models of increased metabolic demand in which serum glucocorticoids are also elevated. The present studies were designed to test the hypothesis that glucocorticoids are required for increased hypothalamic preproNPY mRNA levels induced by food deprivation (FD). First, animals underwent bilateral sham‐adrenalectomy (sham) or not (control), and were subjected to 72 h FD, or not. Total RNA was isolated from hypothalamic tissue blocks and the content of preproNPY mRNA was measured by solution hybridization/RNase protection analysis. This study revealed that there was no significant difference in hypothalamic preproNPY mRNA content between shamfed and control‐fed groups, or between sham‐FD and control‐FD groups. In the second experiment, animals underwent bilateral adrenalectomy (ADX), were allowed to feed ad libitum and were sacrificed 1 day, 4 days and 7 days after ADX. Nuclease protection analysis revealed no significant effect of ADX on hypothalamic preproNPY mRNA levels over this time‐course. Finally, we examined the role of glucocorticoids in regulating NPY gene expression following FD. Animals underwent bilateral ADX, or not. At the time of surgery, ADX animals received placebo, or corticosterone (B) replacement in the form of constant release pellets, at one of two doses. Food was removed from half of the animals in each group 24 h after surgery; all animals were sacrificed 72 h thereafter. There was no difference in preproNPY mRNA content between the ADX‐FD and ADX‐fed groups, relative to the fed controls. Replacement with corticosterone [ADX(B)] did not alter preproNPY mRNA content in fed animals, however preproNPY mRNA content in FD animals was increased 2.5‐fold. These studies demonstrate that glucocorticoids are necessary and serve a stimulatory role in the increase in hypothalamic preproNPY mRNA levels observed under conditions of FD, and suggest that hypothalamic NPY gene expression may be directly responsive to peripheral metabolic and hormonal signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-591
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1992


  • adrenalectomy
  • corticosterone
  • food deprivation
  • gene expression
  • hypothalamus


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