Glucocorticoid deficiency is associated with a decrease of food intake. Orexigenic peptides, neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti related protein (AgRP), and the anorexigenic peptide proopiomelanocortin (POMC), expressed in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC), are regulated by meal-induced signals. Orexigenic neuropeptides, melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) and orexin, expressed in the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), also control food intake. Thus, the present study was designed to test the hypothesis that glucocorticoids are required for changes in the expression of hypothalamic neuropeptides induced by feeding. Male Wistar rats (230-280 g) were subjected to ADX or sham surgery. ADX animals received 0.9% NaCl in the drinking water, and half of them received corticosterone in the drinking water (B: 25 mg/L, ADX + B). Six days after surgery, animals were fasted for 16 h and they were decapitated before or 2 h after refeeding for brain tissue and blood collections. Adrenalectomy decreased NPY/AgRP and POMC expression in the ARC in fasted and refed animals, respectively. Refeeding decreased NPY/AgRP and increased POMC mRNA expression in the ARC of sham and ADX + B groups, with no effects in ADX animals. The expression of MCH and orexin mRNA expression in the LHA was increased in ADX and ADX + B groups in fasted condition, however there was no effect of refeeding on the expression of MCH and orexin in the LHA in the three experimental groups. Refeeding increased plasma leptin and insulin levels in sham and ADX + B animals, with no changes in leptin concentrations in ADX group, and insulin response to feeding was lower in this group. Taken together, these data demonstrated that circulating glucocorticoids are required for meal-induced changes in NPY, AgRP and POMC mRNA expression in the ARC. The lower leptin and insulin responses to feeding may contribute to the altered hypothalamic neuropeptide expression after adrenalectomy. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.