Cajal revisited: does the VMH make us fat?

Metabolic Disease Institute, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Nature Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 14.98). 06/2011; 14(7):806-8. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2867
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Despite numerous educational interventions and biomedical research efforts, modern society continues to suffer from obesity and its associated metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, and these diseases show little sign of abating. One reason for this is an incomplete understanding of the pathology of the metabolic syndrome, which obstructs the development of effective therapeutic strategies. While hypothalamic neuropathy is a potential candidate that may contribute to the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome, the specific causes of hypothalamic neuropathy remain largely unknown. During different stages of high-calorie diet induced metabolic syndrome, the hypothalamus undergoes gliosis and angiogenesis, both of which potentially reflect ongoing inflammatory processes. This overview discusses current data suggesting a role for hypothalamic inflammatory processes in diet-induced metabolic diseases and provides a perspective on how to unravel molecular mechanisms of “hypothalamic inflammation” in order to develop anti-obesity therapeutic strategies.
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    ABSTRACT: The ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH) influences a wide variety of physiological responses. Here, using two distinct but complementary genetic tracing approaches in mice, we describe the development of VMH efferent projections, as marked by steroidogenic factor‐1 (SF‐1; NR5A1). SF‐1 neurons were visualized by Tau‐green fluorescent protein (GFP) expressed from the endogenous Sf‐1 locus (Sf‐1 TauGFP ) or by crossing the transgenic Sf1:Cre driver to a GFP reporter strain (Z/EG Sf1:Cre ). Strikingly, VMH projections were visible early, at embryonic (E) 10.5, when few postmitotic SF1 neurons have been born, suggesting that formation of VMH circuitry begins at the onset of neurogenesis. At E14.5, comparison of these two reporter lines revealed that SF1‐positive neurons in the ventrolateral VMH (VMHvl) persist in Z/EG Sf1:Cre embryos but are virtually absent in Sf‐1 TauGFP . Therefore, although the entire VMH including the VMHvl shares a common lineage, the VMHvl further differentiates into a neuronal cluster devoid of SF‐1. At birth, extensive VMH projections to broad regions of the brain were observed in both mouse reporter lines, matching well with those previously discovered by injection of axonal anterograde tracers in adult rats. In summary, our genetic tracing studies show that VMH efferent projections are highly conserved in rodents and are established far earlier than previously appreciated. Moreover, our results imply that neurons in the VMHvl adopt a distinct fate early in development, which might underlie the unique physiological functions associated with this VMH subregion. J. Comp. Neurol., 521:1268–1288, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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    ABSTRACT: Protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) regulates food intake (FI) and energy expenditure (EE) by inhibiting leptin signaling in the hypothalamus. In peripheral tissues, PTP1B regulates insulin signaling, but its effects on CNS insulin action are largely unknown. Mice harboring a whole-brain deletion of the gene encoding PTP1B (Ptpn1) are lean, leptin-hypersensitive, and resistant to high fat diet-induced (HFD-induced) obesity. Arcuate proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neuron-specific deletion of Ptpn1 causes a similar, but much milder, phenotype, suggesting that PTP1B also acts in other neurons to regulate metabolism. Steroidogenic factor-1-expressing (SF-1-expressing) neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) play an important role in regulating body weight, FI, and EE. Surprisingly, Ptpn1 deletion in SF-1 neurons caused an age-dependent increase in adiposity in HFD-fed female mice. Although leptin sensitivity was increased and FI was reduced in these mice, they had impaired sympathetic output and decreased EE. Immunohistochemical analysis showed enhanced leptin and insulin signaling in VMH neurons from mice lacking PTP1B in SF-1 neurons. Thus, in the VMH, leptin negatively regulates FI, promoting weight loss, whereas insulin suppresses EE, leading to weight gain. Our results establish a novel role for PTP1B in regulating insulin action in the VMH and suggest that increased insulin responsiveness in SF-1 neurons can overcome leptin hypersensitivity and enhance adiposity.
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