Effects of Gold Thioglucose Treatment on Central Corticotrophin-Releasing Hormone Systems in Mice

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Systemic administration of gold thioglucose (GTG) causes a hypothalamic lesion that extends from the ventral part of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) to the dorsal part of the arcuate nucleus (ARC), resulting in hyperphagia and obesity in mice. In the present study, we used in situ hybridisation histochemistry to explore the effects of GTG on the central corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) system, which regulates feeding and energy homeostasis. Type 2 CRH receptor (CRHR-2) mRNA expression decreased by 40% at 8 weeks in the VMH and by 40–60% at 2 and 8 weeks in the ARC after GTG injection. By contrast, CRHR-2 mRNA expression in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and lateral septum was unchanged. Urocortin (Ucn) 3 mRNA expression in the perifornical area and medial amygdala decreased, whereas CRH mRNA expression in the PVN increased at 2 and 8 weeks after GTG injection. Ucn 1 mRNA expression in the Edingher–Westphal nucleus and Ucn 2 mRNA expression in the PVN were unchanged. Because Ucn 3 is an anorexigenic and a possible endogenous ligand for VMH CRHR-2, our results suggest that decreased Ucn 3 expression and decreased VMH CRHR-2 expression contribute, in part, to GTG-induced hyperphagia and obesity. To determine whether VMH CRHR-2 mediates the anorexigenic effects of Ucn 3, Ucn 3 was administered i.c.v. and food intake was measured 8 weeks after GTG treatment. Ucn 3 decreased cumulative food intake on days 4–7 after surgery compared to i.c.v. administration of vehicle in control mice. By contrast, the anorexigenic effects of i.c.v. Ucn 3 were abolished in GTG-treated mice. Taken together, our results indicate that the Ucn 3 pathway, which innervates the VMH, is involved in appetite regulation via CRHR-2. It remains to be determined whether CRHR-2 in the ARC has additional roles in appetite regulation by Ucn 3.

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