[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leptin acts on leptin receptor (LepRb)-expressing neurons throughout the brain, but the roles for many populations of LepRb neurons in modulating energy balance and behavior remain unclear. We found that the majority of LepRb neurons in the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) contain neurotensin (Nts). To investigate the physiologic role for leptin action via these LepRb(Nts) neurons, we generated mice null for LepRb specifically in Nts neurons (Nts-LepRbKO mice). Nts-LepRbKO mice demonstrate early-onset obesity, modestly increased feeding, and decreased locomotor activity. Furthermore, consistent with the connection of LepRb(Nts) neurons with local orexin (OX) neurons and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), Nts-LepRbKO mice exhibit altered regulation of OX neurons and the mesolimbic DA system. Thus, LHA LepRb(Nts) neurons mediate physiologic leptin action on OX neurons and the mesolimbic DA system, and contribute importantly to the control of energy balance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis is critical to maintain homoeothermia and is centrally controlled via sympathetic outputs. Body temperature and BAT activity also impact energy expenditure, and obesity is commonly associated with decreased BAT capacity and sympathetic tone. Severely obese mice that lack leptin or its receptor (LepRb) show decreased BAT capacity, sympathetic tone, and body temperature and thus are unable to adapt to acute cold exposure (Trayhurn et al., 1976). LepRb-expressing neurons are found in several hypothalamic sites, including the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) and median preoptic area (mPOA), both critical sites to regulate sympathetic, thermoregulatory BAT circuits. Specifically, a subpopulation in the DMH/dorsal hypothalamic area (DHA) is stimulated by fever-inducing endotoxins or cold exposure (Dimicco and Zaretsky, 2007; Morrison et al., 2008). Using the retrograde, transsynaptic tracer pseudorabies virus (PRV) injected into the BAT of mice, we identified PRV-labeled LepRb neurons in the DMH/DHA and mPOA (and other sites), thus indicating their involvement in the regulation of sympathetic BAT circuits. Indeed, acute cold exposure induced c-Fos (as a surrogate for neuronal activity) in DMH/DHA LepRb neurons, and a large number of mPOA LepRb neurons project to the DMH/DHA. Furthermore, DMH/DHA LepRb neurons (and a subpopulation of LepRb mPOA neurons) project and synaptically couple to rostral raphe pallidus neurons, consistent with the current understanding of BAT thermoregulatory circuits from the DMH/DHA and mPOA (Dimicco and Zaretsky, 2007; Morrison et al., 2008). Thus, these data present strong evidence that LepRb neurons in the DMH/DHA and mPOA mediate thermoregulatory leptin action.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 02/2011; 31(5):1873-84. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3223-10.2011 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TSC1 is a tumor suppressor that associates with TSC2 to inactivate Rheb, thereby inhibiting signaling by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1). mTORC1 stimulates cell growth by promoting anabolic cellular processes, such as translation, in response to growth factors and nutrient signals. To test roles for TSC1 and mTORC1 in β-cell function, we utilized Rip2/Cre to generate mice lacking Tsc1 in pancreatic β-cells (Rip-Tsc1cKO mice). Although obesity developed due to hypothalamic Tsc1 excision in older Rip-Tsc1cKO animals, young animals displayed a prominent gain-of-function β-cell phenotype prior to the onset of obesity. The young Rip-Tsc1cKO animals displayed improved glycemic control due to mTOR-mediated enhancement of β-cell size, mass, and insulin production but not determinants of β-cell number (proliferation and apoptosis), consistent with an important anabolic role for mTOR in β-cell function. Furthermore, mTOR mediated these effects in the face of impaired Akt signaling in β-cells. Thus, mTOR promulgates a dominant signal to promote β-cell/islet size and insulin production, and this pathway is crucial for β-cell function and glycemic control.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) acts in concert with the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and other components of the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system to control motivation, including the incentive to feed. The anorexigenic hormone leptin modulates the mesolimbic DA system, although the mechanisms underlying this control have remained incompletely understood. We show that leptin directly regulates a population of leptin receptor (LepRb)-expressing inhibitory neurons in the LHA and that leptin action via these LHA LepRb neurons decreases feeding and body weight. Furthermore, these LHA LepRb neurons innervate the VTA, and leptin action on these neurons restores VTA expression of the rate-limiting enzyme in DA production along with mesolimbic DA content in leptin-deficient animals. Thus, these findings reveal that LHA LepRb neurons link anorexic leptin action to the mesolimbic DA system.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) promotes anabolic cellular processes in response to growth factors and metabolic cues. The TSC1 and TSC2 tumor suppressors are major upstream inhibitory regulators of mTOR signaling. Mice with Rip2/Cre-mediated deletion of Tsc1 (Rip-Tsc1cKO mice) developed hyperphagia and obesity, suggesting that hypothalamic disruption (for which Rip2/Cre is well known) of Tsc1 may dysregulate feeding circuits via mTOR activation. Indeed, Rip-Tsc1cKO mice displayed increased mTOR signaling and enlarged neuron cell size in a number of hypothalamic populations, including Pomc neurons. Furthermore, Tsc1 deletion with Pomc/Cre (Pomc-Tsc1cKO mice) resulted in dysregulation of Pomc neurons and hyperphagic obesity. Treatment with the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, ameliorated the hyperphagia, obesity, and the altered Pomc neuronal morphology in developing or adult Pomc-Tsc1cKO mice, and cessation of treatment reinstated these phenotypes. Thus, ongoing mTOR activation in Pomc neurons blocks the catabolic function of these neurons to promote nutrient intake and increased adiposity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hypothalamic neurons expressing the long form of the leptin receptor (LRb) mediate important leptin actions. Although it has been suggested that leptin crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) via a specific transport system, we hypothesized the existence of a population of hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC) neurons that senses leptin independently of this transport system. Indeed, endogenous circulating leptin results in detectable levels of baseline activated signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) phosphorylation in a population of ARC/LRb neurons, consistent with increased sensing of circulating leptin in these neurons compared with other LRb neurons. Furthermore, a population of ARC/LRb neurons that responds more rapidly and sensitively to circulating leptin compared with other hypothalamic LRb neurons detected by leptin activated phosphorylated STAT3. In addition, peripheral application of the BBB-impermeant retrograde tracer fluorogold revealed a population of ARC/LRb neurons that directly contact the circulation (e.g. via neuronal processes reaching outside the BBB). Taken together, these data suggest that a population of ARC/LRb neurons directly contacts the circulation and displays increased sensitivity to circulating leptin compared with neurons residing entirely behind the BBB elsewhere in the hypothalamus.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leptin, an adipocyte-derived hormone, is well known to act in the hypothalamus to reduce food intake and deficiency of leptin signaling leads to morbid obesity, hyperphagia and disturbed thermoregulation. Many hypothalamic sites express leptin receptors (LRb), however, our knowledge about the role of these different target sites in the regulation of food intake is very limited. The dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) shows abundant expression of LRb and robust signaling in response to leptin. Using a cre/loxP system to express a virus driven EGFPf in distinct hypothalamic sites we were able to study the projection fields specifically of DMH/LRb neurons throughout the brain. Consistent with known roles of the DMH in the regulation of stress responses and food intake we found DMH/LRb projections in according areas like the bed nucleus of stria terminalis, the medial preoptic area, raphe pallidus, paraventricular nucleus and arcuate nucleus (ARC). Interestingly, LRb neurons in the DMH are densely innervated by orexigenic (AgRP) and anorexigenic (CART) fibers that likely originate from the ARC and are known to co-express LRb, suggesting a reciprocal regulation of the ARC/LRb and DMH/LRb system.