Endogenous prolactin-releasing peptide regulates food intake in rodents

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Food intake is regulated by a network of signals that emanate from the gut and the brainstem. The peripheral satiety signal cholecystokinin is released from the gut following food intake and acts on fibers of the vagus nerve, which project to the brainstem and activate neurons that modulate both gastrointestinal function and appetite. In this study, we found that neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarii of the brainstem that express prolactin-releasing peptide (PrRP) are activated rapidly by food ingestion. To further examine the role of this peptide in the control of food intake and energy metabolism, we generated PrRP-deficient mice and found that they displayed late-onset obesity and adiposity, phenotypes that reflected an increase in meal size, hyperphagia, and attenuated responses to the anorexigenic signals cholecystokinin and leptin. Hypothalamic expression of 6 other appetite-regulating peptides remained unchanged in the PrRP-deficient mice. Blockade of endogenous PrRP signaling in WT rats by central injection of PrRP-specific mAb resulted in an increase in food intake, as reflected by an increase in meal size. These data suggest that PrRP relays satiety signals within the brain and that selective disturbance of this system can result in obesity and associated metabolic disorders.

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