Obese people exhibit reduced circulating peptide YY (PYY) levels, but it is unclear whether this is a consequence or cause of obesity. We therefore investigated the effect of Pyy ablation on energy homeostasis.
Body composition, i.p. glucose tolerance, food intake and hypothalamic neuropeptide expression were determined in Pyy knock-out and wild-type mice on a normal or high-fat diet.
Pyy knock-out significantly increased bodyweight and increased fat mass by 50% in aged females on a normal diet. Male chow-fed Pyy (-/-) mice were resistant to obesity but became significantly fatter and glucose-intolerant compared with wild-types when fed a high-fat diet. Pyy knock-out animals exhibited significantly elevated fasting or glucose-stimulated serum insulin concentrations vs wild-types, with no increase in basal or fasting-induced food intake. Pyy knock-out decreased or had no effect on neuropeptide Y expression in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, and significantly increased proopiomelanocortin expression in this region. Male but not female knock-outs exhibited significantly increased growth hormone-releasing hormone expression in the ventromedial hypothalamus and significantly elevated serum IGF-I and testosterone levels. This sex difference in activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary somatotrophic axis by Pyy ablation may contribute to the resistance of chow-fed male knock-outs to late-onset obesity.
PYY signalling is important in the regulation of energy balance and glucose homeostasis, possibly via regulation of insulin release. Therefore reduced PYY levels may predispose to the development of obesity, particularly with ageing or under conditions of high-fat feeding.