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Infectious diseases and the administration of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) result in decreased food intake and increased energy expenditure. Because the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) has pivotal roles in the regulation of energy homeostasis and expresses an anorexic peptide, cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART), we hypothesised that increased CART synthesis in this nucleus may contribute to LPS-induced changes in energy homeostasis. Therefore, we studied the effects of intraperitoneal administration of LPS on CART gene expression in the PVN by semiquantitative in situ hybridisation. LPS caused a rapid increase in CART mRNA levels in the PVN. One hour after treatment, the density of silver grains was increased by three-fold in the PVN, and remained elevated 3 h after treatment. Because the dorsal vagal complex, an important vegetative centre in the brainstem, is heavily innervated by CART-containing axons, we determined whether the retrograde tracer, cholera toxin B subunit (CTB), accumulates in CART neurons in the PVN following stereotaxic injection of the tracer into the dorsal vagal complex. One week after injection, CTB accumulated in CART neurons in the ventral, medial, and lateral parvocellular subdivisions of the PVN. In addition, LPS administration induced c-fos expression in a population of CART neurons in the PVN that project to the dorsal vagal complex. These data indicate that increased CART gene expression in neurons of PVN may contribute to LPS-induced anorexia, and suggest that this action may be mediated, at least in part, through a PVN-dorsal vagal complex pathway.