Chronic food restriction and acute food deprivation decrease mRNA levels of opioid peptides in arcuate nucleus

Eun Mee Kim, Catherine Welch, Martha K. Grace, Charles J. Billington, Allen S Levine

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Although opioid administration induces food intake, the relationship between endogenous opioid synthesis and food consumption is unclear. Two studies examined the effects of food restriction and deprivation on opioid mRNA levels in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of the rat. Body weight significantly decreased following food restriction and deprivation (P < 0.0001). In experiment 1, food restriction of 10, 20, 30, and 40% (g) of ad libitum intake for 14 days decreased proDynorphin (proDyn), proEnkephalin (proEnk), and proO-piomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA levels in a linear fashion relative to changes in body weight (r = 0.398, P = 0.011; r = 0.455, P = 0.0028; r = 0.292, P = 0.0642, respectively). In experiment 2, 48 h deprivation significantly decreased mRNA levels of proDyn and POMC by 23.7% (P < 0.05) and 45.6% (P < 0.01), respectively, whereas 24 h food deprivation decreased POMC mRNA by 43.0% (P < 0.01). proEnk mRNA was not affected by 24- or 48-h food deprivation. Restricting food intake suppressed mRNA levels of proDyn, proEnk, and POMC by 29.7, 22.3, and 44.4%, respectively, in 20% restricted rats and by 35.5, 26.8, and 45.6%, respectively, in 40% restricted rats (P < 0.01). It appears that ARC mRNA levels of proDyn, proEnk, and POMC are directly related to the amount of food consumed and/or changes in body weight in food-restricted and food-deprived rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1019-R1024
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5 39-5
StatePublished - 1996


  • food-deprived rats
  • food-restricted rats
  • opioid gene expression
  • proDynorphin
  • proEnkephalin
  • proOpiomelanocortin


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