The effects of high fat diet and estradiol on hypothalamic prepro-QRFP mRNA expression in female rats

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Estradiol (E2) is a potent regulator of feeding behavior, body weight and adiposity in females. The hypothalamic neuropeptide, QRFP, is an orexigenic peptide that increases the consumption of high fat diet (HFD) in intact female rats. Therefore, the goal of the current series of studies was to elucidate the effects of E2 on the expression of hypothalamic QRFP and its receptors, QRFP-r1 and QRFP-r2, in female rats fed a HFD. Alterations in prepro-QRFP, QRFP-r1, and QRFP-r2 expression across the estrous cycle, following ovariectomy (OVX) and following estradiol benzoate (EB) treatment were assessed in the ventral medial nucleus of the hypothalamus/arcuate nucleus (VMH/ARC) and the lateral hypothalamus. In intact females, consumption of HFD increased prepro-QRFP and QRFP-r1 mRNA levels in the VMH/ARC during diestrus, a phase associated with increased food intake and low levels of E2. To assess the effects of diminished endogenous E2, rats were ovariectomized. HFD consumption and OVX increased prepro-QRFP mRNA in the VMH/ARC. Ovariectomized rats consuming HFD expressed the highest levels of QRFP. In the third experiment, all rats received EB replacement every 4days following OVX to examine the effects of E2 on QRFP expression. Prepro-QRFP, QRFP-r1 and QRFP-r2 mRNA were assessed prior to and following EB administration. EB replacement significantly reduced prepro-QRFP mRNA expression in the VMH/ARC. Overall these studies support a role for E2 in the regulation of prepro-QRFP mRNA in the VMH/ARC and suggest that E2's effects on food intake may be via a direct effect on the orexigenic peptide, QRFP.

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