During development there is novel expression of NPY mRNA in the dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus (DMH) and perifornical region (PFR), in addition to the arcuate nucleus (ARH). Furthermore, NPY mRNA levels peak in all regions on postnatal d 16 (P16) and decrease to adult levels by P30. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether NPY and agouti-related protein (AGRP) mRNA expression in the different hypothalamic regions on P11 and P16 are similarly affected by fasting. An examination of the full rostral to caudal extent of the hypothalamus revealed two additional regions displaying novel NPY mRNA expression, the parvocellular division of the paraventricular nucleus (PVH) and lateral hypothalamus (LH). Maternal deprivation for 36 h, used to bring about a fast, similarly increased (23-29%) NPY and AGRP mRNA expression in the ARH on P11 and P16. In contrast, NPY expression in the DMH and PFR were significantly decreased (19-30% and 48-53%, respectively), whereas NPY mRNA levels in the PVH and LH were not altered by this treatment. The increase in NPY and AGRP mRNA expression in the ARH in response to maternal deprivation suggests that these neuronal populations respond to signals of energy balance. In contrast, NPY expression in the DMH, PFR, PVH, and LH is differentially regulated by maternal deprivation or other factors associated with maternal separation.
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