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Ruben Nogueiras, Sulay Tovar, Sharon E Mitchell, Perry Barrett, D Vernon Rayner, Carlos Dieguez and Lynda M Williams

Central neuromedin U (NMU) functions in energy balance, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, LH release and circadian rhythmicity. In rats, high levels of NMU occur in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei and the pars tuberalis of the pituitary. NMU expression in the pars tuberalis appears to be downregulated in the Zucker fatty (fa/fa) rat, lacking functional leptin receptors. In contrast, in the dorsomedial (DMH) nuclei of the mouse, NMU expression is higher in the ob/ob mouse, lacking leptin, and is upregulated by fasting. However, leptin appears not to change NMU gene expression in either the mouse DMH or the rat pars tuberalis. Thus, the present study aims to better identify factors influencing central NMU expression in the rat pars tuberalis. Sprague–Dawley rats were fasted and/or challenged with intracerebroventricular leptin or ghrelin and gene expression was measured using real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR and quantitative in situ hybridisation with riboprobes specific for NMU and NMU receptor (NMU-R2). NMU expression in the rat pars tuberalis was elevated by fasting. Ghrelin administration had no effect on the level of NMU expression, but leptin was found to diminish the expression in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. NMU-R2 expression was unchanged in any of the groups measured. These results suggest that NMU expression in rat pars tuberalis is upregulated in states of negative energy balance, and this may be mediated indirectly by changes in leptin levels. These results demonstrate a link between energy balance and NMU expression in the pars tuberalis of the pituitary.

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Perry Barrett, Elena Ivanova, E Scott Graham, Alexander W Ross, Dana Wilson, Helene Plé, Julian G Mercer, Francis J Ebling, Sandrine Schuhler, Sandrine M Dupré, Andrew Loudon and Peter J Morgan

Tanycytes in the ependymal layer of the third ventricle act both as a barrier and a communication gateway between the cerebrospinal fluid, brain and portal blood supply to the pituitary gland. However, the range, importance and mechanisms involved in the function of tanycytes remain to be explored. In this study, we have utilized a photoperiodic animal to examine the expression of three unrelated gene sequences in relation to photoperiod-induced changes in seasonal physiology and behaviour. We demonstrate that cellular retinoic acid-binding protein 1 (CRBP1), a retinoic acid transport protein, GPR50, an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor and nestin, an intermediate filament protein, are down-regulated in short-day photoperiods. The distribution of the three sequences is very similar, with expression located in cells with tanycyte morphology in the region of the ependymal layer where tanycytes are located. Furthermore, CRBP1 expression in the ependymal layer is shown to be independent of a circadian clock and altered testosterone levels associated with testicular regression in short photo-period. Pinealectomy of Siberian hamsters demonstrates CRBP1 expression is likely to be dependent on melatonin output from the pineal gland. This provides evidence that tanycytes are seasonally responsive cells and are likely to be an important part of the mechanism to facilitate seasonal physiology and behaviour in the Siberian hamster.

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Perry Barrett, Elena Ivanova, E Scott Graham, Alexander W Ross, Dana Wilson, Helene Plé, Julian G Mercer, Francis J Ebling, Sandrine Schuhler, Sandrine M Dupré, Andrew Loudon and Peter J Morgan