Malnutrition programs the neuroendocrine axis by disruption of food-intake control, leading to obesity. Taurine (Tau) is neuroprotective and improves anorexigenic actions in the hypothalamus. We evaluated the hypothalamic gene-expression profile and food-intake control in protein-restricted mice submitted to a high-fat diet (HFD) and Tau supplementation. Mice were fed on a control (14 % protein-C) or a protein-restricted diet (6 % protein-R) for 6 weeks. Thereafter, mice received, or not, HFD for 8 weeks (CH and RH) with or without 5 % Tau supplementation (CHT and RHT). Protein restriction led to higher food intake, but calories were matched to controls. Excessive calorie intake occurred in HFD mice and this was prevented by Tau supplementation only in the CH group. Additionally, RH and CH mice developed hypothalamic leptin resistance, which was prevented by Tau. Global alterations in the expressions of genes involved in hypothalamic metabolism, cellular defense, apoptosis and endoplasmic reticulum stress pathways were induced by dietary manipulations and Tau treatment. The orexigenic peptides NPY and AgRP were increased by protein restriction and lowered by the HFD. The anorexigenic peptide Pomc was increased by HFD, and this was prevented by Tau only in CH mice. Thus, food intake was disrupted by dietary protein restriction and obesity. HFD-induced alterations were not enhanced by previous protein deficiency, but the some beneficial effects of Tau supplementation upon food intake were blunted by protein restriction. Tau effects upon feeding behavior control are complex and involve interactions with a vast gene network, preventing hypothalamic leptin resistance.
Keywords: Food intake; High-fat diet; Hypothalamus; Neuropeptides; Protein restriction; Taurine supplementation.