Meal-induced changes in extracellular 5-HT in medial hypothalamus of lean (Fa/Fa) and obese (fa/fa) Zucker rats

Brant A. De Fanti, Jock S. Hamilton, Barbara A Horwitz

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29 Scopus citations


Hypothalamic serotonin (5-HT) is involved in appetite regulation and sympathetic stimulation of thermogenesis. This study tested the hypothesis that the enhanced energetic efficiency of obese Zucker rats involves blunted serotonergic release within the medial hypothalamus (MH). We used microdialysis and HPLC-EC to measure dynamic changes in extracellular 5-HT levels in the MH of 10-13-week-old male lean (Fa/Fa) and obese (fa/fa) Zucker rats before and after a meal. No differences were noted in basal levels of 5-HT between lean and obese rats. Consistent with the suggestion that hypothalamic 5-HT plays a physiological role in feeding, extracellular 5-HT levels increased significantly in both lean and obese rats given a meal. This increase was observed in the 20 min interval in which they ate the 8.1 kcal meal and remained for an additional 60 min. The net release of 5-HT during the meal interval was comparable in the lean (1.46±0.38 fmol/μl) and obese (1.21±0.82 fmol/μl) rats. However, the 5-HT levels of the leans (1.80±0.29 fmol/μl) plateaued in the next 20 min interval, whereas they continued rising (2.74±0.53 fmol/μl) in obese rats and were significantly higher than those in the leans during the 40 and 60 min intervals after the meal was presented. This resulted in a total net release during the meal plus the next three 20 min intervals that was significantly higher in obese (9.83±1.16 fmol/μl) than in lean (5.59±0.85 fmol/μl) rats. Thus, the enhanced energetic efficiency of the obese Zucker rats may not be associated with attenuated serotonin release in response to a meal. Rather their enhanced release of 5-HT in the MH may reflect compensatory mechanisms for the elevated orexigen NPY, the reduction in meal-induced CCK release, and/or a functional resistance to 5-HT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-170
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001


  • Diet-induced stimulation
  • Microdialysis
  • Ventromedial hypothalamus
  • VMH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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