The hypothalamus is the key site of central regulation of energy homeostasis, appetite, and reproduction. The long form leptin receptor (Ob-Rl) is localized within the hypothalamus along with several neuropeptides that are involved in regulation of the neuroendocrine axis. In the present study, developmental changes in gene expression of the Ob-Rl, preproorexin, proopiomelanocortin (POMC), corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), somatostatin, and GnRH in the hypothalamus was studied. Expression of Ob-Rl and neuropeptide mRNA was examined by semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in hypothalami collected from 106-day-old fetus (n = 3) and 7-day-old (n = 3), 3.5-mo-old (n = 3), and 6-mo-old (n = 2) gilts. In addition, leptin mRNA expression in the first three ages was examined in back fat. Leptin mRNA expression increased (P < 0.05) by 7 days postnatal, but Ob-Rl mRNA expression increased (P < 0.01) by 3.5 mo. Expression of preproorexin (P < 0.05), somatostatin, and GnRH (P < 0.01) mRNA peaked by 3.5 mo of age while POMC mRNA expression increased markedly (P < 0.01) by 6 mo of age. The CRF mRNA expression did not change across ages. These findings suggest a possible relationship among Ob-Rl and a number of hypothalamic and peripheral peptides in the development of the neuroendocrine axis. These peptides may serve as messengers that link mechanisms that regulate reproduction and energy balance.
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