2006 Volume 68 Issue 9 Pages 959-965
We have previously produced human growth hormone (hGH) transgenic (TG) rats that show low circulating levels of both hGH and endogenous rat GH. Although body length of the TG rats is normal, they develop hyperphagia and severe obesity. The present study was undertaken to elucidate the causes of hyperphagia in the TG rats by focusing on temporal changes in plasma ghrelin levels and hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (NPY) contents. In both wild-type (WT) and TG rats, the highest value of plasma ghrelin levels was observed just before the dark phase, and thereafter plasma ghrelin levels were maintained higher in the TG than WT rats. Although NPY contents also showed the peak level just before the dark phase in both the arcuate (ARC) and paraventricular nuclei (PVN) of the hypothalamus, the values in the ARC, but not the PVN, of the TG rats was always lower than those of the WT rats, suggesting increased transport of NPY from the ARC to PVN in the TG rats. In addition, treatment with antagonists for Y1 and Y5 receptors for NPY reduced food intake much more effectively in the TG than WT rats. Intermittent treatment with recombinant hGH for a week significantly decreased food consumption, adipose tissue weight and plasma triglyceride concentrations in the TG rats. These results suggest that, in the TG rats, insufficiency in circulating GH stimulates the ghrelin-NPY system with a resultant increase in food intake.