Effects of early postnatal environment on hypothalamic gene expression in OLETF rats

Yonwook J. Kim, Mariana Schroeder, Nu Chu Liang, Timothy H. Moran, Aron Weller, Sheng Bi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous reports have shown that the early postnatal environment has the ability to modify the obesity phenotype of Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) rats. To determine whether this early postnatal environment affects hypothalamic signaling systems involved in energy balance, OLETF pups and lean Long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka (LETO) pups were cross-fostered to same or opposite strain Dams (designated as LdLp: LETO pups with LETO dams; LdOp: OLETF pups with LETO dams; OdLp: LETO pups with OLETF dams; and OdOp: OLETF pups with OLETF dams). Hypothalamic gene expression was examined at postnatal day 23 (PND 23) and PND 90 as OdOp rats started to gain more body weight at PND 23 and developed obesity at PND 90 relative to lean control LdLp rats. On PND 23, neuropeptide Y (Npy) gene expression was significantly increased in the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) in both LdOp and OdOp pups compared to LdLp pups. Maternal environment did not affect DMH Npy expression in LETO weanlings. On PND 90, maternal environment during the cross-fostering period had a major effect on DMH Npy expression. Levels were significantly increased in both OdOp and OdLp rats relative to those in LdOp rats and LdLp controls. Reduced expression of Npy in the DMH of LdOp rats was consistent with their reduction of body weight compared to OdOp rats. In contrast to DMH Npy, gene expression for Npy and proopiomelanocortin in the arcuate nucleus appeared to appropriately respond to alterations in body weight and plasma leptin levels. Levels of oxytocin gene expression in the paraventricular nucleus were lower in offspring raised by LETO dams apparently responding to the higher DMH NPY levels. Together, our results demonstrate effects of both genotype and early postnatal environment on obesity of OLETF rats and further suggest an important role of DMH NPY in the development of obesity of OLETF rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0178428
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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