Diminished feeding responsiveness to orexin A (hypocretin 1) in aged rats is accompanied by decreased neuronal activation

Catherine M. Kotz, Mary A. Mullett, Chuan Feng Wang

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25 Scopus citations


Orexin A is produced in caudal lateral, posterior, perifornical, and dorsomedial hypothalamic areas. Orexin A in the rostro-dorsal lateral hypothalamic area (rLHa) stimulates feeding and activates several feeding-regulatory brain areas. We hypothesized that aging diminishes feeding and c-Fos-immunoreactivity (c-Fos-ir; marker of neuronal activation) response to orexin A. Young (3 mo), middle-aged (12 mo), and old (24 mo) male Fischer 344 rLHa-cannulated rats were injected with orexin A (0.5, 1, and 2 nmol). Food intake was measured at 1, 2, and 4 h. c-Fos-ir in hypothalamic, limbic, and hindbrain regions was measured in two additional sets of rLHa-orexin A injected rats. In a separate study, orexin A effects on feeding and c-Fos-ir were measured in 6-mo-old rats. Orexin A significantly elevated feeding in rats aged 3, 6, and 12 mo in the 0-1 and 1-2- h time intervals, whereas in old rats this was significant in the 1-2 h time interval only. At 1 h, 6-8 (of 14) brain areas showed elevated c-Fos-ir in response to orexin A in 3- and 6-mo-old rats, but 24-mo-old rats exhibited attenuated or absent c-Fos-ir response in all brain regions except the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and rostral nucleus of the solitary tract (rNTS). Orexin A did not elevate c-Fos-ir in 3-mo-old rats at 2 h after injection, whereas the PVN and mediodorsal thalamic nucleus (MD) showed elevated c-Fos-ir at 2 h in 24-mo-old rats. These data suggest that delayed and diminished feeding responses in old animals may be due to ineffective neural signaling and implicate the orexin A network as one feeding system affected by aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R359-R366
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2 58-2
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Aging
  • Feeding behavior
  • Lateral hypothalamus
  • Sleep
  • c-Fos-immunoreactivity


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