Brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus reduces energy intake

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Recent studies show that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) decreases feeding and body weight after peripheral and ventricular administration. BDNF mRNA and protein, and its receptor TrkB, are widely distributed in the hypothalamus and other brain regions. However, there are few reports on specific brain sites of actions for BDNF. We evaluated the effect of BDNF, given into the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH), on normal and deprivation- and neuropeptide Y (NPY)-induced feeding behavior and body weight. BDNF injected unilaterally or bilaterally into the VMH of food-deprived and nondeprived rats significantly decreased feeding and body weight gain within the 0- to 24-h and the 24- to 48-h postinjection intervals. Doses effectively producing inhibition of feeding behavior did not establish a conditioned taste aversion. BDNF-induced feeding inhibition was attenuated by pretreatment of the TrkB-Fc fusion protein that blocks binding between BDNF and its receptor TrkB. VMH-injected BDNF significantly decreased VMH NPY-induced feeding at 1, 2, and 4 h after injection. In summary, BDNF in the VMH significantly decreases food intake and body weight gain, by TrkB receptor-mediated actions. Furthermore, the anorectic effects of BDNF in this site appear to be mediated by NPY. These data suggest that the VMH is an important site of action for BDNF in its effects on energy metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1037-R1045
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Body weight
  • Food intake


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