Adrenalectomy enhances endotoxemia-induced hypophagia: higher activation of corticotrophin-releasing-factor and proopiomelanocortin hypothalamic neurons

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Inflammatory and infectious processes evoke neuroendocrine and behavioral changes known as acute-phase response that includes activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and reduction of food intake. Besides its action as the most important ACTH secretagogue, corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF), synthesized in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN), is also involved in the control of food intake. Alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) in the arcuate nucleus also plays a role in the energy homeostasis, possessing anorexigenic effects. To investigate the participation of neuropeptides involved in the regulation of food intake during endotoxemia, we administrated lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in sham-operated and adrenalectomized (ADX) male Wistar rats to evaluate food intake, hormone responses and Fos-CRF and Fos-α-MSH immunoreactivity in the PVN and arcuate nucleus, as well as CRF and POMC mRNA expression in these hypothalamic nuclei. In sham-operated rats, treatment with LPS (100 μg/kg) showed lower food intake, higher plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels, as well as an increase in Fos-CRF double labeled neurons and CRF mRNA expression in the PVN, with no changes in Fos-α-MSH immunoreactivity and POMC mRNA expression in the arcuate nucleus, compared to saline treated rats. After LPS treatment, ADX rats showed further increase in plasma ACTH levels, marked decrease of food intake, higher Fos-CRF immunoreactive neurons in the PVN and CRF mRNA expression, as well as an increase in Fos-α-MSH immunoreactivity and POMC mRNA expression in the arcuate nucleus, compared to sham-operated rats treated with LPS. In conclusion, the present data indicate that the marked hypophagia during endotoxemia following ADX is associated with an increased activation of CRF and POMC neurons in the hypothalamus and an increased mRNA expression of these neuropeptides.

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