Neuropeptide Y (NPY) concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay in eight microdissected hypothalamic regions of obese (fa/fa) and lean (Fa/?) Zucker rats. Freely fed obese rats showed significant (40–100%) increases in NPY concentrations in several regions, notably the paraventricular, ventromedial, and dorsomedial nuclei and the arcuate nucleus/median eminence, compared with lean rats. Hypothalamic NPY concentrations were not affected in either obese or lean rats by food restriction, which caused 25% weight loss over 3 wk. Refeeding to initial weight significantly increased NPY levels in the ventromedial and dorsomedial nuclei in lean rats but did not significantly alter NPY concentrations in any hypothalamic region in obese rats. These observations indicate fundamental differences in the regulation of hypothalamic NPY between obese and lean Zucker rats. NPY injected into the paraventricular nucleus and other regions causes hyperphagia, obesity, and increased secretion of insulin, glucagon, ACTH, and corticosterone. These behavioral and neuroendocrine abnormalities all occur in the obese Zucker syndrome and may be due to increased NPY-ergic activity in the hypothalamus.

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