Influence of photoperiod and gonadal status on food intake, adiposity, and gene expression of hypothalamic appetite regulators in a seasonal mammal

Chantacha Anukulkitch, Alexandra Rao, Frank R Dunshea, Dominique Blache, Gerald A Lincoln, Iain James Clarke

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We studied the effects of photoperiod on metabolic profiles, adiposity, and gene expression of hypothalamic appetite-regulating peptides in gonad-intact and castrated Soay rams. Groups of five to six animals were studied 6, 18, or 30 wk after switching from long photoperiod (LP: 16 h of light) to short photoperiod (SP: 8 h of light). Reproductive and metabolic indexes were measured in blood plasma. Expression of neuropeptide Y (NPY), proopiomelanocortin (POMC), and leptin receptor (ObRb) in the arcuate nucleus was measured using in situ hybridization. Testosterone levels of intact animals were low under LP, increased to a peak at 16 wk under SP, and then declined. Voluntary food intake (VFI) was high under LP in both intact and castrated animals, decreased to a nadir at 12-16 wk under SP, and then recovered, but only in intact rams as the reproductive axis became photorefractory to SP. NPY gene expression varied positively and POMC expression varied negatively with the cycle in VFI, with differences between intact and castrate rams in the refractory phase. ObRb expression decreased under SP, unrelated to changes in VFI. Visceral fat weight also varied between the intact and castrated animals across the cycle. We conclude that 1) photoperiodic changes in VFI reflect changes in NPY and POMC gene expression, 2) changes in ObRb gene expression are not necessarily determinants of changes in VFI, 3) gonadal status affects the pattern of VFI that changes with photoperiod, and 4) in the absence of gonadal factors, animals can eat less but gain adiposity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R242 - R252
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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