Resistin is a new adipokine expressed in mouse, rat and human adipose tissue. Resistin may be an important link between obesity and insulin resistance, though this controversial view is complicated by the discovery of multiple sites of resistin expression, including human macrophages, placenta and pancreas. In previous studies we demonstrated that the mouse hypothalamo-pituitary system was also a site of resistin production. Pituitary resistin is developmentally regulated, reduced in the ob/ob mouse and severely down-regulated by food deprivation (24 h). An unexpected finding was that hypothalamic resistin mRNA remained unaffected by fasting. The present experiments examined the localization and possible regulation of hypothalamic resistin protein. Using immunohistochemistry we observed a complex network of resistin+ fibres extending rostrally from the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC) to the preoptic area. Labelled cell bodies occurred only in the ARC and in a periventricular region of the dorsal hypothalamus. Hypothalamic resistin immunoreactivity (ir) was unaffected by fasting (48 h) or by a high fat diet, but the periventricular staining was greatly increased in the lactating mouse. Marked reductions in resistin+ fibres were seen in brain tissue from: (a) ob/ob mice, (b) young mice made underweight for their age by raising them in large litters (20 pups per litter) and (c) mice with hypothalamic lesions induced by monosodium glutamate (MSG) or gold thioglucose (GTG). We speculate that the resistin-ir deficit in genetically obese mice, and in severely underweight mice, could be due to low or absent leptin. In contrast, though MSG- and GTG-treated mice have high levels of circulating leptin, in the presence of excessive visceral fat deposits, we hypothesize that damage to the ARC destroys the resistin+ cell bodies. This latter supposition led us to an additional hypothesis, that resistin-ir would be contained in neurons expressing the proopiomelanocortin (POMC) gene. This proved to be correct. Double label immunofluorescence histochemistry revealed that alpha-MSH-ir, a marker for POMC neurons, was co-localized with resistin-ir. In conclusion, our data reveal a second example of an adipocytokine co-localized with a hypothalamic neuropeptide. We reported previously that leptin was co-localized with oxytocin and vasopressin. RT-PCR analysis confirmed that resistin mRNA is readily detectable in ARC, but further work is required to determine whether the resistin gene is expressed in POMC neurons or if resistin is specifically accumulated by these cells. Nonetheless, our data suggest that the hypothalamus is a target tissue for resistin.
Copyright (c) 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel.