Differential expression of hypothalamic CART mRNA in response to body weight change following different dietary interventions

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Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) peptide is widely expressed in the hypothalamus and is involved in the central regulation of energy balance. Using in situ hybridization, this study examined the roles of CART peptide in the hypothalamus of diet-induced obese (DIO) or diet-resistant (DR) mice under different dietary interventions including high-fat (HF), low-fat (LF) and pair-feeding (PF) diet for 6 weeks. Pair feeding the energy intake of the DIO and DR mice was used to determine whether there is an inherent difference in baseline CART expression that may cause the DIO and DR phenotypes. The results demonstrated that CART mRNA expression in the hypothalamus of the DIO mice responded differently on the high-fat diet compared to DR mice. The arcuate nucleus and paraventricular nucleus showed a significant reduction in CART mRNA expression in DIO mice compared to DR mice on the HF diet (−19.6%, p = 0.019; −26.1%, p = 0.003); whilst a profound increase in CART mRNA expression was observed in the dorsomedial nucleus and lateral hypothalamic area (+44.5%, p = 0.007; +37.4%, p = 0.033). Our study suggests that the decrease of CART mRNA expression in Arc and PVN regions of DIO mice may contribute to the development of high-fat diet-induced obesity. In addition, CART in the dorsomedial nucleus (DM) of hypothalamus and lateral hypothalamus (LH) may be involved in the activation of an orexigenic effect. Since pair feeding of the high-fat diet eliminated both the body weight and CART mRNA differences between the DIO and DR mice, it is likely that their alterations in gene expression were a consequence of their dissimilar body weight levels.

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