A neuroendocrine role for chemerin in hypothalamic remodelling and photoperiodic control of energy balance

Gisela Helfer, Alexander W Ross, Lynn M Thomson, Claus D Mayer, Patrick N Stoney, Peter J McCaffery, Peter J Morgan* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Long-term and reversible changes in body weight are typical of seasonal animals. Thyroid hormone (TH) and retinoic acid (RA) within the tanycytes and ependymal cells of the hypothalamus have been implicated in the photoperiodic response. We investigated signalling downstream of RA and how this links to the control of body weight and food intake in photoperiodic F344 rats. Chemerin, an inflammatory chemokine, with a known role in energy metabolism, was identified as a target of RA. Gene expression of chemerin (Rarres2) and its receptors were localised within the tanycytes and ependymal cells, with higher expression under long (LD) versus short (SD) photoperiod, pointing to a physiological role. The SD to LD transition (increased food intake) was mimicked by 2 weeks of ICV infusion of chemerin into rats. Chemerin also increased expression of the cytoskeletal protein vimentin, implicating hypothalamic remodelling in this response. By contrast, acute ICV bolus injection of chemerin on a 12 h:12 h photoperiod inhibited food intake and decreased body weight with associated changes in hypothalamic neuropeptides involved in growth and feeding after 24 hr. We describe the hypothalamic ventricular zone as a key site of neuroendocrine regulation, where the inflammatory signal, chemerin, links TH and RA signaling to hypothalamic remodeling.
Original languageEnglish
Article number26830
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2016

Bibliographical note

We thank Donna Wallace and the animal house staff for their help with the animal studies. We thank Pat Bain for help in preparing the figures. This work was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) grant number BB/K001043/1 (G.H., A.W.R., P.N.S., P.J.Mc. and P.J.M.) and the Scottish Government (A.W.R., L.M.T., C.D.M. and P.J.M.).


  • chemerin
  • hypothalamus
  • tanycytes
  • body weight
  • food intake
  • energy balance
  • photoperiod
  • seasonal
  • plasticity
  • inflammation


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