Interleukin (IL)-6 has been involved in the control of body weight and body fat. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying these effects are not completely understood because central and peripheral actions of IL-6 are plausible. To gain further insight into the central effects of IL-6, we used transgenic mice expressing the IL-6 gene under the control of the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) promoter (GFAP-IL-6 mice), therefore with central nervous system-restricted over-expression of IL-6, and we studied the expression of the main neuropeptides responsible for energy homeostasis in specific hypothalamic nuclei. Neuropeptide Y (NPY), agouti-related peptide (AgRP), melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH), prepro-orexin (preproOX) (orexigenic and anabolic neuropeptides), pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) (anorexigenic and catabolic peptides) mRNA levels were determined using in situ hybridisation in young (2-4month-old) and old (10-12month-old) female and male mice under different feeding conditions: normal diet (control) and high-fat diet (HFD), and 24h-food deprivation. In GFAP-IL-6 females fed a control diet (GFAP-IL-6-control), we showed a significant decrease in NPY and AgRP mRNA levels at all ages, and a late increase in POMC expression (only significant in older animals). These differences were blunted in HFD mice. By contrast, GFAP-IL-6-control males showed a decrease in CRH mRNA content at early ages (2-4months), and an increase in older mice (10-12months). Interestingly, these differences were again blunted in HFD mice. Finally, central IL-6 was not able to counteract the effects of 24h of fasting on body weight, plasma glucose levels and the mRNA content of the peptides evaluated in the present study. Our results demonstrate that IL-6 may regulate the expression of hypothalamic neuropeptides involved in the control of body weight and body fat acting at the central level in a gender- and age-dependent way. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Neuroendocrinology © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
- Body weight