Neuropeptide Y induces torpor-like hypothermia in Siberian hamsters


Intracerebroventricular (ICV) injections of neuropeptide Y (NPY) are known to decrease body temperature (Tb) of laboratory rats by 1-3°C. Several NPY pathways in the brain terminate in hypothalamic structures involved in energy balance and thermoregulation. Laboratory rats are homeothermic, maintaining Tb within a narrow range. We examined the effect of ICV injected NPY on Tb in the heterothermic Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus), a species that naturally undergoes daily torpor in which T b decreases by as much as 15-20°C. Minimum effective dose was determined in preliminary testing then various doses of NPY were tested in cold-acclimated Siberian hamsters while food was withheld. NPY markedly reduced Tb in the heterothermic Siberian hamster. In addition, the reduction in Tb in 63% of the observations was sufficient to reach the criterion for daily torpor (Tb < 32°C for at least 30 min). Neither the incidence of torpor nor its depth or duration was related to NPY dose. Both likelihood and magnitude of response varied within animals on different test days. NPY decreased 24-h food intake and this was exaggerated in the animals reaching criterion for torpor; the decrease in food intake was positively correlated with the magnitude of the decrease in Tb. The mild hypothermia seen in homeothermic laboratory rats after NPY injected ICV is exaggerated, often greatly, in the heterothermic Siberian hamster. NPY treatment may be activating hypothalamic systems that normally integrate endogenous torpor-producing signals and initiate torpor. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Brain Research