Gonadal steroids modulated hypocretin/orexin type-1 receptor expression in a brain region, sex and daytime specific manner

Regul Pept. 2009 Nov 27;158(1-3):121-6. doi: 10.1016/j.regpep.2009.08.002. Epub 2009 Aug 21.


Orexins A and B (hypocretins A and B) are regulatory peptides that control a variety of neuroendocrine and autonomic functions including feeding and sleep-wakefulness. Previously, we described a clear relationship between the hormonal milieu of the estrous cycle and the mRNA expression of the components of the orexinergic system, in the hypothalamus, pituitary and ovary. Here, we investigate whether steroid hormones are involved in the modulation of the hypocretin/orexin type-1 receptor expression at the protein level, and its time of the day dependence, in hypothalamus and pituitary of castrated male and female rats and castrated receiving hormone replacement. Orchidectomy decreased the hypocretin/orexin type-1 receptor expression in anterior hypothalamus, but not in mediobasal hypothalamus or cortex; in pituitary this treatment resulted in an increase. Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone were able to restore receptor expression and gonadotropins. In females, pituitary and ovarian hormones increased during proestrous afternoon. Hypocretin/orexin type-1 receptor expression was higher at 19:00 of proestrus in hypothalamus and pituitary. Ovariectomized treated with estradiol or oil and sacrificed at 11:00 h showed the receptor expression similar to 11:00 h of proestrus in hypothalamus and pituitary. At 19:00 h, low expression persisted in these areas in oil-treated ovariectomized rats; in contrast, estradiol replacement increased the expression to high levels of normal cycling rats at 19:00 h. Sexual steroids modulate the orexinergic system and the anatomical regions, hormones and times of the day all have to be considered when the roles of orexins, and probably other peptides, are under consideration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology*
  • Male
  • Orchiectomy
  • Orexin Receptors
  • Ovariectomy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / metabolism*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Orexin Receptors
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide