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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effect of intracerebroventricular alpha-MSH on food intake, adiposity, c-Fos induction, and neuropeptide expression.

  • Author(s): McMinn, JE
  • Wilkinson, CW
  • Havel, PJ
  • Woods, SC
  • Schwartz, MW
  • et al.

alpha-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is a hypothalamic neuropeptide proposed to play a key role in energy homeostasis. To investigate the behavioral, metabolic, and hypothalamic responses to chronic central alpha-MSH administration, alpha-MSH was infused continuously into the third cerebral ventricle of rats for 6 days. Chronic alpha-MSH infusion reduced cumulative food intake by 10.7% (P < 0.05 vs. saline) and body weight by 4.3% (P < 0.01 vs. saline), which in turn lowered plasma insulin levels by 29.3% (P < 0.05 vs. saline). However, alpha-MSH did not cause adipose-specific wasting nor did it alter hypothalamic neuropeptide mRNA levels. Central alpha-MSH infusion acutely activated neurons in forebrain areas such as the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, as measured by a 254% increase in c-Fos-like immunoreactivity (P < 0.01 vs. saline), as well as satiety pathways in the hindbrain. Our findings suggest that, although an increase of central melanocortin receptor signaling acutely reduces food intake and body weight, its anorectic potency wanes during chronic infusion and causes only a modest decrease of body weight.

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