In obesity, levels of tumor necrosis-factor α (TNFα) are well known to be elevated in adipose tissues or serum, and a high-fat diet (HFD) reportedly increases TNFα expression in the hypothalamus. The expression levels of hypothalamic protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B), a negative regulator of leptin and insulin signaling, are also elevated by HFD, and several lines of evidence support a relationship between TNFα and PTP1B. It remains unclear however how TNFα acts locally in the hypothalamus to regulate hypothalamic PTP1B expression and activity. In this study, we examined whether TNFα can regulate PTP1B expression and activity using rat hypothalamic organotypic cultures. Incubation of cultures with TNFα resulted in increases in mRNA expression, protein levels and activity of PTP1B in a dose- and time-dependent manner, respectively compared with controls. TNFα-induced PTP1B protein levels were not influenced by co-incubation with the sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin, indicating that the action of TNFα is independent of action potentials. TNFα also increased phosphorylation of p65, a subunit of nuclear factor-κB (NFκB), in a dose- and time-dependent manner. While incubation with inhibitors of NFκB did not affect basal levels of either p65 phosphorylation or PTP1B expression, it markedly suppressed both TNFα-induced p65 phosphorylation and PTP1B expression to almost basal levels. These data suggest that TNFα acts on the hypothalamus to increase hypothalamic PTP1B expression and activity via the NFκB pathway, and that TNFα-mediated induction of NFκB in the hypothalamus may cause leptin and insulin resistance in the hypothalamus by increasing hypothalamic PTP1B activity.
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