Characterization of brainstem peptide YY (PYY) neurons

J Comp Neurol. 2008 Jan 10;506(2):194-210. doi: 10.1002/cne.21543.


Peptide YY (PYY), a member of the NPY superfamily of peptides, is predominantly synthesized by the colon and is thought to act on both the gut and brain to modulate energy homeostasis. Although neurons expressing PYY mRNA have also been reported in the brainstem, little is known about their physiological role and study of their projections has been problematic due to crossreactivity of PYY antibodies with NPY. In the present study we examined the localization of central PYY cell bodies in the mouse, rat, and monkey. In addition, efferent projections and afferent inputs of central PYY neurons were examined in rodents. Central PYY projections were examined by immunohistochemistry in the NPY knockout mouse, or with an NPY-preabsorbed PYY antibody in the rat to avoid any crossreactivity with NPY. In all species investigated PYY-immunoreactive (ir) cell bodies were localized exclusively to the gigantocellular reticular nucleus (Gi) of the rostral medulla. The highest density of PYY fibers was present within the solitary tract nucleus, specifically within the dorsal and lateral aspects. PYY fibers were also concentrated within the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus and the hypoglossal nucleus. In addition, both orexin and melanin-concentrating hormone fibers made numerous close appositions with PYY cell bodies in the Gi. Collectively, the projection pattern and association with orexigenic neuropeptides suggest that brainstem PYY neurons may play a role in energy homeostasis through a coordinated effect on visceral, motor, and sympathetic output targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / cytology*
  • Brain Stem / metabolism
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Orexins
  • Peptide YY / genetics
  • Peptide YY / metabolism*
  • Pituitary Hormones / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Melanins
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Neuropeptides
  • Orexins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Peptide YY
  • melanin-concentrating hormone