Hormones and neuropeptides play a crucial role in the appetite control system of vertebrates, yet few studies have focused on their importance during early teleost development. In this study, we analysed the expression patterns of the appetite-controlling factors ghrelin, neuropeptide Y (NPY), peptide YY (PYY), pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC-C), and cocaine-amphetamine-related transcript (CART) by quantitative PCR. Transcript expression was investigated in response to feeding in developing Atlantic halibut larvae: before (premetamorphic stage 5) and during metamorphosis (stages 8 and 9B), and also in response to a fast-refeed challenge. We show that ghrelin transcript expression increased in synchrony with stomach development, while CART was significantly reduced during larval development. PYY was up-regulated 1 and 3. h after feeding in stage 5. Transcript abundance of other appetite-controlling factors did not change in response to feeding. Fasting-refeeding trials (majority of larvae in metamorphosing stage 7) revealed a down-regulation of POMC-C 30. min after refeeding, while ghrelin, PYY and NPY transcript expression increased 2, 4 and 5. h after refeeding, respectively. In summary, transcripts for key appetite-controlling factors were detected early during development in Atlantic halibut and their emergence was not correlated with metamorphosis, with the exception of ghrelin. Our results suggest that PYY may mediate satiety early in larval development. The differing response times of POMC-C, ghrelin, PYY and NPY to a meal are intriguing and require further exploration to understand the role of each player in appetite control.
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