• N-procalcitonin;
  • CRF;
  • hypothalamus;
  • paraventricular nucleus;
  • feeding

Aminoprocalcitonin (N-PCT), a neuroendocrine peptide derived from procalcitonin, reduces food intake and body weight when administered centrally in rats. We have recently shown that N-PCT is expressed in brain areas known to be involved in energy homeostasis, including the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus, which contains a prominent population of corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF)-synthesising neurones. CRF plays a pivotal role in the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and food intake. However, little is known about functional interactions of N-PCT and CRF. In the present study, we found endogenous N-PCT protein in the rat PVN. We also showed N-PCT immunoreactivity in PVN co-localised with NeuN, a neuronal marker, or glial fibrillary acidic protein, an astrocyte marker. Double staining immunohistochemistry revealed that N-PCT co-localised with CRF in parvocellular neurones of the PVN. Intracerebroventricular N-PCT administration increased CRF mRNA and content in the hypothalamus, suggesting that N-PCT stimulates the HPA axis and suppresses food intake and body weight via CRF-dependent pathways. In keeping with this, i.c.v. co-injection of D-Phe-CRF12-41, a CRF receptor antagonist, significantly attenuated N-PCT-induced reduction in food intake and body weight in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, i.c.v. administration of N-PCT increased plasma adrenocorticotrophic hormone and corticosterone concentrations and induced the expression of Fos protein, a marker of neuronal activity, in parvocellular CRF neurones. These data collectively support the hypothesis that N-PCT inhibits food intake and body weight and stimulates the HPA axis via CRF-mediated pathways.