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Free Content Sleep structure and feeding pattern changes induced by the liver’s thermal status in the rat

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Given the liver’s importance in controlling metabolic homeostasis in mammals, we sought to establish (i) whether the thermal status of this organ was involved in the link between sleep, thermoregulation and food intake and (ii) how the hypothalamic structures affect the functional interactions between processes involved in regulation of the body’s energy balance. In 10 freely moving rats, the liver was heated artificially to and maintained at set‐point temperatures of 39.5, 40.0 and 40.5 °C for 4 h. Each animal’s feeding activity, cortical temperature and brown adipose tissue (T BAT) temperature were measured continuously. Sleep organization and wakefulness were scored from electroencephalograms. Each animal served as its own control. Heating the liver induced a decrease in food intake and T BAT, corresponding to the development of a hypometabolic hypothermic status. The total amounts of wakefulness and rapid eye movement sleep fell, whereas the total amount of slow wave sleep increased accordingly. Our findings show that the liver is involved significantly in the body’s thermodynamic equilibrium. The organ’s thermal status can induce well‐coordinated behavioural and autonomic adaptive responses involved in the control of food intake and in the maintenance of body homeothermia. Our study provides indirect evidence of the existence of hepatic thermosensors afferent to feeding and sleeping hypothalamic integrating centres that can be stimulated by physiological increases in liver temperature.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratoire Peritox, EA 4285-Unité Mixte 01 INERIS, UFR de Médecine, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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