Leptin secretion and hypothalamic neuropeptide and receptor gene expression in sheep

A. Sorenson, C.L. Adam, P.A. Findlay, M. Travers, M. Marie, L. Thomas, R.G. Vernon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Peripheral and hypothalamic mechanisms underlying the hyperphagia of lactation have been investigated in sheep. Sheep were fed ad libitum and killed at 6 and 18 days of lactation; ad libitum-fed nonlactating sheep were killed as controls. Despite increased food intake, lactating ewes were in negative energy balance. Lactation decreased plasma leptin and adipose tissue leptin mRNA concentrations. OB-Rb gene expression, determined by in situ hybridization, was increased in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC) and ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) at both stages of lactation. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) was increased by lactation in both the ARC and dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH), although increased gene expression in the DMH was only apparent at day 18 of lactation. Gene expression was decreased for cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) in the ARC and VMH and for proopiomelanocortin in ARC during lactation. Agouti-related peptide gene expression was increased in the ARC, and melanocortin receptor expression was unchanged in both the ARC and VMH with lactation. Thus the hypoleptinemia of lactation may activate NPY orexigenic pathways and attenuate anorexigenic melanocortin and CART pathways in the hypothalamus to promote the hyperphagia of lactation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1227-35
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • physiology
  • biomedical sciences
  • lactation
  • hyperphagia
  • sheep
  • leptin secretion


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