Jacobs Journal of Anatomy and Physiology

The Effect of Proteins in Maternal Diet on Fetal and Early Post-Natal Development of Food Intake Regulation in Hypothalamus (A Short Conversation)

*Alireza Jahan-mihan
Department Of Exercise Science, University Of North Florida, North Florida, United States

*Corresponding Author:
Alireza Jahan-mihan
Department Of Exercise Science, University Of North Florida, North Florida, United States

Published on: 2018-02-22


Altered fetal development of food intake regulatory system in hypothalamus can contribute to the etiology of obesity in later life. Both protein content and protein source in maternal diet during gestation and lactation affect hypothalamic development of food intake regulatory system in fetus and neonate.



Components of the central neural network for regulating food intake are present before birth in rodents and higher-order mammals. The neuronal circuitry is not fully developed until 16 days after birth in rodents which is quite different from human and sheep. In the rat, Neuropeptide Y (NPY) neurons first appear in the arcuate and dorsolateral hypothalamus at 14.5 days gestation and thereafter, NPY mRNA expression rapidly increases between 2 and 15–16 days after birth and it returns to adult levels at approximately 30 days of age. NPY receptors are present and functional at early life as evidenced by the observation that microinjection of NPY directly into the Paraventricular Nucleus (PVN) at 2 days after birth stimulates milk and water intake. Moreover, vagal sensory information from the gastrointestinal tract relating to fullness may be an important factor in regulating food intake in the first week after birth since during this period is a relative dominance of NPY and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone ( -MSH) innervation of the PVNby efferents derived from the brain stem, rather than the arcuatenucleus. However, NPY/Agouti-related peptide (AgRP) projections from the arcuate nucleus to the dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus (DMN)are not complete until some 10–11 days after birth, and projections to the PVN do not fully develop until 15–16 days. Peripheral leptin treatment at day 10 after birth reduces NPYmRNA expression in the rostral arcuate nucleus. However, it has little impact on food intake, which is in compliance with the lack of NPY projections within the hypothalamus during the early postnatalperiod. Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), AgRP, and Melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) mRNA are also all present in the hypothalamus in early postnatal period.