A neural basis for melanocortin-4 receptor-regulated appetite.
ABSTRACT: Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)- and agouti-related peptide (AgRP)-expressing neurons of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC) are oppositely regulated by caloric depletion and coordinately stimulate and inhibit homeostatic satiety, respectively. This bimodality is principally underscored by the antagonistic actions of these ligands at downstream melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4R) in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH). Although this population is critical to energy balance, the underlying neural circuitry remains unknown. Using mice expressing Cre recombinase in MC4R neurons, we demonstrate bidirectional control of feeding following real-time activation and inhibition of PVH(MC4R) neurons and further identify these cells as a functional exponent of ARC(AgRP) neuron-driven hunger. Moreover, we reveal this function to be mediated by a PVH(MC4R)→lateral parabrachial nucleus (LPBN) pathway. Activation of this circuit encodes positive valence, but only in calorically depleted mice. Thus, the satiating and appetitive nature of PVH(MC4R)→LPBN neurons supports the principles of drive reduction and highlights this circuit as a promising target for antiobesity drug development.
Project description:Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)- and agouti-related peptide (AgRP)-expressing neurons of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC) are oppositely regulated by caloric depletion and coordinately stimulate and inhibit homeostatic satiety, respectively. This bimodality is principally underscored by the antagonistic actions of these ligands at downstream melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4R) in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH). Although this population is critical to energy balance, the underlying neural circuitry remains unknown. Using mice expressing Cre recombinase in MC4R neurons, we demonstrate bidirectional control of feeding following real-time activation and inhibition of PVH(MC4R) neurons and further identify these cells as a functional exponent of ARC(AgRP) neuron-driven hunger. Moreover, we reveal this function to be mediated by a PVH(MC4R)?lateral parabrachial nucleus (LPBN) pathway. Activation of this circuit encodes positive valence, but only in calorically depleted mice. Thus, the satiating and appetitive nature of PVH(MC4R)?LPBN neurons supports the principles of drive reduction and highlights this circuit as a promising target for antiobesity drug development.
Project description:Arcuate nucleus (ARC) neurons sense the fed or fasted state and regulate hunger. Agouti-related protein (AgRP) neurons in the ARC (ARCAgRP neurons) are stimulated by fasting and, once activated, they rapidly (within minutes) drive hunger. Pro-opiomelanocortin (ARCPOMC) neurons are viewed as the counterpoint to ARCAgRP neurons. They are regulated in an opposite fashion and decrease hunger. However, unlike ARCAgRP neurons, ARCPOMC neurons are extremely slow in affecting hunger (many hours). Thus, a temporally analogous, rapid ARC satiety pathway does not exist or is presently unidentified. Here we show that glutamate-releasing ARC neurons expressing oxytocin receptor, unlike ARCPOMC neurons, rapidly cause satiety when chemo- or optogenetically manipulated. These glutamatergic ARC projections synaptically converge with GABAergic ARCAgRP projections on melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R)-expressing satiety neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVHMC4R neurons). Transmission across the ARCGlutamatergic?PVHMC4R synapse is potentiated by the ARCPOMC neuron-derived MC4R agonist, ?-melanocyte stimulating hormone (?-MSH). This excitatory ARC?PVH satiety circuit, and its modulation by ?-MSH, provides insight into regulation of hunger and satiety.
Project description:Neurons in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) sense the fed/fasted state and regulate hunger. ARCAgRP neurons release GABA, NPY and the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) antagonist, AgRP, and are activated by fasting1-4. When stimulated, they rapidly and potently drive hunger5,6. ARCPOMC neurons, in contrast, release the MC4R agonist, α-MSH, and are viewed as the counterpoint to ARCAgRP neurons. They are regulated in an opposite fashion and their activity leads to decreased hunger2,4,7. Together, ARCAgRP and ARCPOMC neurons constitute the ARC feeding center. Against this, however, is the finding that ARCPOMC neurons, unlike ARCAgRP neurons, fail to affect food intake over the timescale of minutes to hours following opto- or chemogenetic stimulation5,8. This suggests a rapidly acting component of the ARC satiety pathway is missing. Here, we show that excitatory ARC neurons identified by expression of vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGLUT2) and the oxytocin receptor, unlike ARCPOMC neurons, rapidly cause satiety when chemo- or optogenetically manipulated. These glutamatergic ARC projections synaptically converge with GABAergic ARCAgRP projections on MC4R-expressing neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVHMC4R neurons), which are known to mediate satiety9. ARCPOMC neurons also send dense projections to the PVH. Importantly, the α-MSH they release post-synaptically potentiates glutamatergic synaptic activity onto PVHMC4R neurons – including that emanating from ARCVglut2 neurons. This suggests a means by which α-MSH can bring about satiety – via postsynaptic potentiation of this novel ARCVglut2 to PVHMC4R satiety circuit. Thus, while fast (GABA and NPY) and slow (AgRP) ARC hunger signals are delivered together by ARCAgRP neurons10,11, the temporally analogous satiety signals from the ARC, glutamate and α-MSH, are delivered separately by two parallel, interacting projections (from ARCVGLUT2 and ARCPOMC neurons). Discovery of this rapidly acting excitatory ARC → PVH satiety circuit, and its regulation by α-MSH, provides new insight into regulation of hunger/satiety.
Project description:Hunger is a complex behavioural state that elicits intense food seeking and consumption. These behaviours are rapidly recapitulated by activation of starvation-sensitive AGRP neurons, which present an entry point for reverse-engineering neural circuits for hunger. Here we mapped synaptic interactions of AGRP neurons with multiple cell populations in mice and probed the contribution of these distinct circuits to feeding behaviour using optogenetic and pharmacogenetic techniques. An inhibitory circuit with paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH) neurons substantially accounted for acute AGRP neuron-evoked eating, whereas two other prominent circuits were insufficient. Within the PVH, we found that AGRP neurons target and inhibit oxytocin neurons, a small population that is selectively lost in Prader-Willi syndrome, a condition involving insatiable hunger. By developing strategies for evaluating molecularly defined circuits, we show that AGRP neuron suppression of oxytocin neurons is critical for evoked feeding. These experiments reveal a new neural circuit that regulates hunger state and pathways associated with overeating disorders.
Project description:Obesity is a pandemic afflicting more than 300 million people worldwide, driven by consumption of calorically dense and highly rewarding foods. Dopamine (DA) signaling has been implicated in neural responses to highly palatable nutrients, but the exact mechanisms through which DA modulates homeostatic feeding circuits remains unknown. A subpopulation of arcuate (ARC) agouti-related peptide (AgRP)/neuropeptide Y (NPY) (ARC<sup>AgRP/NPY+</sup>) neurons express the D(1A) dopamine receptor (Drd1) and are stimulated by DA, suggesting one potential avenue for dopaminergic regulation of food intake. Using patch clamp electrophysiology, we evaluated the responses of ARC Drd1-expressing (ARC<sup>Drd1+</sup>) neurons to overnight fasting and leptin. Collectively, ARC<sup>Drd1+</sup> neurons were less responsive to caloric deficit than ARC<sup>AgRP/NPY+</sup> neurons; however, ARC<sup>Drd1+</sup> neurons were inhibited by the satiety hormone leptin. Using Channelrhodopsin-2-Assisted Circuit Mapping, we identified novel subgroups of ARC<sup>Drd1+</sup> neurons that inhibit or excite ARC<sup>AgRP/NPY+</sup> neurons. These findings suggest dopamine receptive neurons have multimodal actions in food intake circuits.
Project description:The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH) consists of distinct functional compartments regulating neuroendocrine, behavioral, and autonomic activities that are involved in the homeostatic control of energy balance. These compartments receive synaptic inputs from neurons of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARH) that contains orexigenic agouti-related peptide (AgRP) and anorexigenic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neuropeptides. The axon outgrowth from the ARH to PVH occurs during a critical postnatal period and is influenced by the adipocyte-derived hormone leptin, which promotes its development. However, little is known about leptin's role in specifying patterns of cellular connectivity in the different compartments of the PVH. To address this question, we used retrograde and immunohistochemical labeling to evaluate neuronal inputs onto sympathetic preautonomic and neuroendocrine neurons in PVH of leptin-deficient mice (Lep(ob)/Lep(ob)) exposed to a postnatal leptin treatment. In adult Lep(ob)/Lep(ob) mice, densities of AgRP- and ?-melanocortin stimulating hormone (?MSH)-immunoreactive fibers were significantly reduced in neuroendocrine compartments of the PVH, but only AgRP were reduced in all regions containing preautonomic neurons. Moreover, postnatal leptin treatment significantly increased the density of AgRP-containing fibers and peptidergic inputs onto identified preautonomic, but not onto neuroendocrine cells. Neonatal leptin treatment neither rescued ?MSH inputs onto neuroendocrine neurons, nor altered cellular ratios of inhibitory and excitatory inputs. These effects were associated with attenuated body weight gain, food intake and improved physiological response to sympathetic stimuli. Together, these results provide evidence that leptin directs cell type-specific patterns of ARH peptidergic inputs onto preautonomic neurons in the PVH, which contribute to normal energy balance regulation.
Project description:We previously found that ultraviolet B (UVB) could stimulate the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) with activation the systemic hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis. To investigate whether UVB can also stimulate other hypothalamic nuclei, we tested its effect on the proopiomelanocortin (POMC) related signalling system in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of female C57BL/6 and FVB albino mice. The shaved back skin of the mice was irradiated with either 100 or 400 mJ/cm2 of UVB. After 1, 3, 6 and 12 h, blood and hypothalamus were collected and processed for gene and protein expression, and measurement of ?-MSH and ?-endorphin (?-END) levels. An in situ immunohistochemical examination was performed for melanocortin receptor 4 (MC4R) and POMC-derived ?-MSH. The expression of Pomc and MC4R mRNAs was stimulated, whereas that of AgRP was inhibited after exposure to UVB. It was accompanied by an increased number of both ?-MSH- and MC4R-immunoreactive neurons in the ARC, and by increased levels of ?-MSH and ?-END (both found in the hypothalamus and plasma). This surprising discovery of UVB stimulating the POMC system in the ARC, accompanied by the increased plasma levels of ?-MSH and ?-END, paves the way for exciting areas of research on the communication between the skin and the brain, as well as is suggesting a new role for UVB in regulation of body metabolism.
Project description:The melanocortin receptor 4 (MC4R) is a well-established mediator of body weight homeostasis. However, the neurotransmitter(s) that mediate MC4R function remain largely unknown; as a result, little is known about the second-order neurons of the MC4R neural pathway. Single-minded 1 (Sim1)-expressing brain regions, which include the paraventricular nucleus of hypothalamus (PVH), represent key brain sites that mediate melanocortin action. We conditionally restored MC4R expression in Sim1 neurons in the background of Mc4r-null mice. The restoration dramatically reduced obesity in Mc4r-null mice. The anti-obesity effect was completely reversed by selective disruption of glutamate release from those same Sim1 neurons. The reversal was caused by lower energy expenditure and hyperphagia. Corroboratively, selective disruption of glutamate release from adult PVH neurons led to rapid obesity development via reduced energy expenditure and hyperphagia. Thus, this study establishes glutamate as the primary neurotransmitter that mediates MC4Rs on Sim1 neurons in body weight regulation.
Project description:The central nervous system controls feeding behavior and energy expenditure in response to various internal and external stimuli to maintain energy balance. Here we report that the newly identified transcription factor zinc finger and BTB domain containing 16 (Zbtb16) is induced by energy deficit in the paraventricular (PVH) and arcuate (ARC) nuclei of the hypothalamus via glucocorticoid (GC) signaling. In the PVH, <i>Zbtb16</i> is expressed in the anterior half of the PVH and co-expressed with many neuronal markers such as corticotropin-releasing hormone (Crh), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (Trh), oxytocin (Oxt), arginine vasopressin (Avp), and nitric oxide synthase 1 (Nos1). Knockdown (KD) of <i>Zbtb16</i> in the PVH results in attenuated cold-induced thermogenesis and improved glucose tolerance without affecting food intake. In the meantime, <i>Zbtb16</i> is predominantly expressed in agouti-related neuropeptide/neuropeptide Y (Agrp/Npy) neurons in the ARC and its KD in the ARC leads to reduced food intake. We further reveal that chemogenetic stimulation of PVH Zbtb16 neurons increases energy expenditure while that of ARC Zbtb16 neurons increases food intake. Taken together, we conclude that <i>Zbtb16</i> is an important mediator that coordinates responses to energy deficit downstream of GCs by contributing to glycemic control through the PVH and feeding behavior regulation through the ARC, and additionally reveal its function in controlling energy expenditure during cold-evoked thermogenesis via the PVH. As a result, we hypothesize that Zbtb16 may be involved in promoting weight regain after weight loss.
Project description:Contrasting to the established role of the hypothalamic agouti-related protein (AgRP) neurons in feeding regulation, the neural circuit and signaling mechanisms by which they control energy expenditure remains unclear. Here, we report that energy expenditure is regulated by a subgroup of AgRP neurons that send non-collateral projections to neurons within the dorsal lateral part of dorsal raphe nucleus (dlDRN) expressing the melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R), which in turn innervate nearby serotonergic (5-HT) neurons. Genetic manipulations reveal a bi-directional control of energy expenditure by this circuit without affecting food intake. Fiber photometry and electrophysiological results indicate that the thermo-sensing MC4R<sup>dlDRN</sup> neurons integrate pre-synaptic AgRP signaling, thereby modulating the post-synaptic serotonergic pathway. Specifically, the MC4R<sup>dlDRN</sup> signaling elicits profound, bi-directional, regulation of body weight mainly through sympathetic outflow that reprograms mitochondrial bioenergetics within brown and beige fat while feeding remains intact. Together, we suggest that this AgRP neural circuit plays a unique role in persistent control of energy expenditure and body weight, hinting next-generation therapeutic approaches for obesity and metabolic disorders.