Increases in serum estrogen inhibit food intake. Conversely, progesterone stimulates food intake, probably via its antiestrogenic action. We have reported that elevated serum prolactin also stimulates food intake in female rats. It is unclear whether this effect is mediated through elevated levels of progesterone. The present study investigated the effects of prolactin on food intake and brown fat activity in the absence of progesterone. Female Osborne-Mendel rats were assigned to one of six groups: sham operated (Sham, n = 10), ovariectomized (OVX, n = 10), OVX + low estrogen (EL, n = 11), OVX + EL + prolactin (PIT, n = 9), OVX + high estrogen (EH, n = 10), and OVX + EH + PIT (n = 8). Estrogen levels were elevated by Silastic implants. Prolactin levels were elevated through pituitary transplants placed under the kidney capsule. Nine days postsurgery, food intake was significantly higher in OVX vs. Sham rats. Estrogen-treated rats (OVX + EL and OVX + EH) had significantly suppressed food intake values compared with both Sham and OVX animals. Finally, hyperprolactinemic rats (OVX + EL + PIT and OVX + EH + PIT) ate significantly more food than did estrogen-treated rats without pituitary explants. Despite the hyperphagia, no significant differences in brown fat GDP binding were observed. These data indicate that prolactin stimulates food intake in the absence of ovarian progesterone.
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