Hypothalamic Regulation of Food Intake in Obese and Anorexic Avian Models

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Virginia Tech


Chickens from lines that have been divergently selected for either low (LWS) or high (HWS) body weight at 56 days of age for more than 57 generations serve as unique models to study eating disorders. The LWS have different severities of anorexia while all HWS become obese. Over the past decade our groups has demonstrated that these lines have differential food intake threshold responses to a range of intracerebroventricular (ICV) injected neurotransmitters. The major brain region regulating homeostatic regulation of appetite is the hypothalamus, and hence this dissertation was focused on understanding how the hypothalamus is different between LWS and HWS lines. Experiments 1 and 2 were performed as follows: whole hypothalamus as well as individual hypothalamic nuclei, respectively, were collected from 5 day-old chicks that had been fasted for 180 min or had free access to food. The hypothalamic nuclei included those primarily associated with appetite including the lateral hypothalamus, paraventricular nucleus (PVN), ventromedial hypothalamus, dorsomedial nucleus, and arcuate nucleus (ARC). Total RNA was isolated, reverse transcribed, and real time PCR performed. Hypothalamic expression of anorexigenic factors was greater in LWS than HWS, those factors including calcitonin, corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 1, leptin receptor, neuropeptide S, melanocortin receptor 3 (MC3R), and mesotocin. The gene expression data from individual hypothalamic nuclei revealed that mesotocin from the PVN may play an important role in the inhibition of appetite in the LWS. Experiment 3 was then designed to evaluate the effects of stress on food intake: besides the differences in hypothalamic gene expression between the lines, they also have different feeding responses when stressed: ICV injection of neuropeptide Y (0.2 nmol, NPY) did not increase food intake in LWS on day 5 after stress exposure. Experiment 4 was thus designed to study the molecular mechanisms underlying conditional feeding responses to exogenous NPY after stress in the LWS. The melanocortin system (AgRP and MC3R) changed in the hypothalamus after stress in the LWS, and hence may be responsible for the loss of responsiveness to exogenous NPY in stressed LWS. Experiment 5 was designed to evaluate whether hypothalamic differences exist at the protein level: label-free liquid chromatography coupled to tandem-mass spectrometry was used to measure the abundance of proteins in the hypothalamus. Hypothalamus was obtained from fed and 180 minute-fasted 5 day-old male LWS and HWS chicks. Proteins involved in energy metabolism were different between the lines. Differences were also found in proteins involved in GABA synthesis and uptake as well as protein ubiquitination. In conclusion, these results suggest that different feeding behaviors of LWS and HWS may be due to differences in gene and protein expression in the hypothalamus.



hypothalamus, body weight lines, appetite regulation, anorexia, Obesity, NPY, proteome