The insulin superfamily, characterized by common disulphide bonds, includes not only insulin but also insulin-like peptides such as relaxin-1 and relaxin-3. The actions of relaxin-3 are largely unknown, but recent work suggests a role in regulation of food intake. Relaxin-3 mRNA is highly expressed in the nucleus incertus, which has extensive projections to the hypothalamus, and relaxin immunoreactivity is present in several hypothalamic nuclei. In the rat, relaxin-3 binds and activates both relaxin family peptide receptor 1, which also binds relaxin-1, and a previously orphaned G protein-coupled receptor, RXFP3. These receptors are extensively expressed in the hypothalamus. The aims of these studies were twofold: 1) map the hypothalamic site(s) of the orexigenic action of relaxin-3 and 2) examine the site(s) of neuronal activation following central relaxin-3 administration. After microinjection into hypothalamic sites, human relaxin-3 (H3; 180 pmol) significantly stimulated 0- to 1-h food intake in the supraoptic nucleus (SON), arcuate nucleus (ARC), and the anterior preoptic area (APOA) [SON 0.4 ± 0.2 (vehicle) vs. 2.9 ± 0.5 g (H3), P < 0.001; ARC 0.7 ± 0.3 (vehicle) vs. 2.7 ± 0.2 g (H3), P < 0.05; and APOA 0.8 ± 0.1 (vehicle) vs. 2.2 ± 0.2 g (H3), P < 0.05]. Cumulative food intake was significantly increased 8 h following administration into the SON and 4 h into the APOA. A significant increase in Fos-like immunoreactivity was seen in the SON following central relaxin-3 administration. Relaxin-3 stimulates feeding in several hypothalamic nuclei, and these studies provide additional support for relaxin-3 as an important peptide in appetite regulation.
2007. Vol. 292, 913-919 p.