The role of vagally-medicated hyperinsulinemia in hypothalamic obesity

King, B.M.; Frohman, L.A.

Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 6(2): 205-214


ISSN/ISBN: 0149-7634
PMID: 7048155
DOI: 10.1016/0149-7634(82)90056-2
Accession: 017472437

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Evidence that the obesity syndrome which follows ventromedial hypothalamic (VMH) lesions is at least partially the result of a primary metabolic dysfunction is reviewed, as are proposals that the altered metabolism is due to enhanced vagally-mediated insulin release. This hypothesis was based largely on experiments demonstrating the complete reversal of hypothalamic obesity by subdiaphragmatic vagotomy, but subsequent studies have revealed that hypothalamic obesity is not always prevented by prior vagal transections. Interpretation of these discrepant results has been made difficult because of the frequent use of gastric secretion, behavioral, or other indirect tests for completeness of vagotomy. A review of more recent studies which have employed either direct assessment of vagotomy effects on insulin levels, pharmacological blockade of vagal efferent activity, or selective vagotomies indicates that vagally-mediated hyperinsulinemia can account for no more than 40% of the weight gain observed in animals with VMH lesions fed ad libitum, and may not be involved in the obesity that results from some parasagittal VMH knife cuts. It is concluded that vagally-mediated hyperinsulinemia does make a substantial, although not exclusive, contribution to the increased carcass lipid content observed in VMH animals that are food-restricted or pair-fed with control animals.