1. Hypothalamic concentrations of nine peptides with experimental effects on energy balance were compared in obese (fa/fa) and lean (Fa/?) male Zucker rats. To determine whether any peptide differences between obese and lean rats might be due to the overweight condition per se, separate groups of obese rats were food-restricted to reduce their body weight to lean values.
2. Concentrations of neuromedin B, a bombesin-like peptide, in the central hypothalamus were significantly higher in obese than in lean rats. This difference was not affected in food-restricted obese rats.
3. Hypothalamic levels of neuropeptide Y, an extremely potent central appetite stimulant, were similar in lean and freely fed obese rats but central hypothalamic levels of neuropeptide Y rose significantly in food-restricted obese rats.
4. These findings suggest that disturbances in hypothalamic neuromedin B concentrations may be involved in the obesity syndrome of the fa/fa Zucker rat. Increased central hypothalamic levels of neuropeptide Y in food-restricted rats suggest that this peptide may help to defend body weight by stimulating eating after weight loss.