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Physiology & behavior

The orexigenic effect of melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is influenced by sex and stage of the estrous cycle.


PMID 18191424

Abstract

Recently, it was shown that the orexigenic effect of melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is attenuated by estradiol treatment in ovariectomized (OVX) rats. This suggests that female rats may be less responsive than male rats to the behavioral effects of MCH. To investigate this hypothesis, the effects of lateral ventricular infusions of MCH on food intake, water intake, meal patterns, and running wheel activity were examined in male and female rats. To further characterize the impact of estradiol on MCH-induced food intake, female rats were OVX and tested with and without 17-beta-estradiol benzoate (EB) replacement. In support of our hypothesis, food and water intakes following MCH treatment were greater in male rats, relative to female rats. Specifically, the orexigenic effect of MCH was maximal in male rats and minimal in EB-treated OVX rats. In both sexes, the orexigenic effect of MCH was mediated by a selective increase in meal size, which was attenuated in EB-treated OVX rats. MCH-induced a short-term (2 h) decrease in wheel running that, unlike its effects on ingestive behavior, was similar in males and females. Thus, estradiol decreases some, but not all, of the behavioral effects of MCH. To examine the influence of endogenous estradiol, food intake was monitored following MCH treatment in ovarian-intact, cycling rats. As predicted by our findings in OVX rats, the orexigenic effect of MCH was attenuated in estrous rats, relative to diestrous rats. We conclude that the female rat's reduced sensitivity to the orexigenic effect of MCH may contribute to sex- and estrous cycle-related differences in food intake.