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Georgia Balsevich, Andres Uribe, Klaus V Wagner, Jakob Hartmann, Sara Santarelli, Christiana Labermaier and Mathias V Schmidt

While it is known that stress promotes obesity, the effects of stress within an obesogenic context are not so clear and molecular targets at the interface remain elusive. The FK506-binding protein 51 (FKBP51, gene: Fkbp5) has been identified as a target gene implicated in the development of stress-related psychiatric disorders and is a possible candidate for involvement in stress and metabolic regulation. The aims of the current study are to investigate the interaction between chronic stress and an obesogenic context and to additionally examine whether FKBP51 is involved in this interaction. For this purpose, male C57BL/6 mice were exposed to a high-fat diet for 8 weeks before being challenged with chronic social defeat stress. Herein, we demonstrate that chronic stress induces hypophagia and weight loss, ultimately improving features arising from an obesogenic context, including glucose tolerance and levels of insulin and leptin. We show that Fkbp5 expression is responsive to diet and stress in the hypothalamus and hippocampus respectively. Furthermore, under basal conditions, higher levels of hypothalamic Fkbp5 expression were related to increased body weight gain. Our data indicate that Fkbp5 may represent a novel target in metabolic regulation.

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Mathias V Schmidt, Claudia Liebl, Vera Sterlemann, Karin Ganea, Jakob Hartmann, Daniela Harbich, Stephanie Alam and Marianne B Müller

The function of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis of the neonatal mouse or rat is characterized by a period of quiescence, where mild stimuli are unable to elicit a pronounced increase in circulating corticosterone. A disruption of this period by maternal separation has been shown to result in a variety of long-term consequences, including neuroendocrine and behavioral disturbances. We have recently shown that peripheral metabolic markers like glucose or ghrelin are altered by maternal separation and that these changes precede the effects on corticosterone secretion. In the current study, we investigated whether the initial activation of the HPA axis is mediated via neuropeptide Y (NPY). To test this hypothesis, we studied the effects of an 8 h maternal separation in NPY-deficient mice. In addition, we compared the effect of the genotype with the previously described pharmacological effect of a ghrelin receptor antagonist. We could show that the peripheral response to maternal separation is decreased in NPY heterozygous and homozygous animals. In addition, maternal separation effects on corticotropin releasing hormone and glucocorticoid receptor expression in the brain were prevented in NPY-deficient pups. These effects were similar to a pharmacological ghrelin receptor blockade. We conclude that metabolic signals via an NPY-mediated pathway play a crucial role in activating the stress system of the neonatal mouse.