Regulation of hypothalamic neuropeptide-Y neurons by growth hormone in the rat
Clifton, Donald K.
Chan, Yvonne Y.
Steiner, Robert A.
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GH is thought to exert a short-loop feedback action on the hypothalamic somatostatin- and GH-releasing hormone (GHRH)-containing neurons. The direct actions of GH are mediated through GH receptors. In the male rat, few GHRH-containing neurons in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) appear to express the GH receptor messenger RNA (mRNA); however, some unidentified neurons near GHRH neurons do. Recent evidence suggests that neuropeptide-Y (NPY)-containing neurons, which are located near GHRH neurons in the ARC, are targets for GH action because treatment of rats with GH induces c-fos expression in these cells. We conducted two experiments to test the hypothesis that GH acts on NPY neurons in the ARC. First, we performed double-label in situ hybridization to determine whether NPY neurons in the ARC express GH receptor mRNA. Second, we investigated the possibility that GH regulates NPY mRNA expression by using in situ hybridization to compare ARC NPY mRNA levels among groups of normal (n = 7), hypophysectomized (n = 7), and hypophysectomized/rGH-treated (1.5 mg rat GH over 3 days; n = 6) rats. We found that most of the NPY-containing neurons in the ARC expressed GH receptor mRNA, whereas hypothalamic NPY neurons residing outside of the ARC did not. Furthermore, hypophysectomy significantly decreased NPY mRNA levels, and GH treatment restored the levels to those of the intact animals. We conclude that GH regulates the activity of NPY neurons in the ARC by a direct action on GH receptors that are expressed by NPY neurons. Whether the action of GH on NPY neurons in the ARC is related to the feedback control of GH secretion or some other physiological function remains to be determined.