[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons of the hypothalamus release a fast transmitter (GABA) in addition to neuropeptides (neuropeptide Y [NPY] and Agouti-related peptide [AgRP]). This raises questions as to their respective functions. The acute activation of AgRP neurons robustly promotes food intake, while central injections of AgRP, NPY, or GABA agonist results in the marked escalation of food consumption with temporal variance. Given the orexigenic capability of all three of these neuroactive substances in conjunction with their coexpression in AgRP neurons, we looked to unravel their relative temporal role in driving food intake. After the acute stimulation of AgRP neurons with DREADD technology, we found that either GABA or NPY is required for the rapid stimulation of feeding, and the neuropeptide AgRP, through action on MC4 receptors, is sufficient to induce feeding over a delayed yet prolonged period. These studies help to elucidate the neurochemical mechanisms of AgRP neurons in controlling temporally distinct phases of eating.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The dogma that life without insulin is incompatible has recently been challenged by results showing the viability of insulin-deficient rodents undergoing leptin monotherapy. Yet, the mechanisms underlying these actions of leptin are unknown. Here, the metabolic outcomes of intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of leptin in mice devoid of insulin and lacking or re-expressing leptin receptors (LEPRs) only in selected neuronal groups were assessed. Our results demonstrate that concomitant re-expression of LEPRs only in hypothalamic γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons is sufficient to fully mediate the lifesaving and antidiabetic actions of leptin in insulin deficiency. Our analyses indicate that enhanced glucose uptake by brown adipose tissue and soleus muscle, as well as improved hepatic metabolism, underlies these effects of leptin. Collectively, our data elucidate a hypothalamic-dependent pathway enabling life without insulin and hence pave the way for developing better treatments for diseases of insulin deficiency.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Normal leptin signaling is essential for the maintenance of body weight homeostasis. Proopiomelanocortin (POMC)- and agouti-related peptide (AgRP)-producing neurons play critical roles in regulating energy metabolism. Our recent work demonstrates that deletion of Rho-kinase 1 (ROCK1) in the AgRP neurons of mice increased body weight and adiposity. Herge we report that selective loss of ROCK1 in AgRP neurons caused a significant decrease in energy expenditure and locomotor activity of mice. These effects were independent of any change in food intake. Furthermore, AgRP neuron-specific ROCK1 deficient mice displayed central leptin resistance, as evidenced by impaired STAT3 activation in response to leptin administration. Leptin's ability to hyperpolarize and decrease firing rate of AgRP neurons was also abolished in the absence of ROCK1. Moreover, diet-induced and genetic forms of obesity resulted in reduced ROCK1 activity in murine arcuate nucleus. Of note, high-fat diet also impaired leptin-stimulated ROCK1 activity in arcuate nucleus, suggesting that a defect in hypothalamic ROCK1 activity may contribute to the pathogenesis of central leptin resistance in obesity. Together, these data demonstrate that ROCK1 activation in hypothalamic AgRP neurons is required for the homeostatic regulation of energy expenditure and adiposity. These results further support prior work identifying ROCK1 as a key regulator of energy balance and suggest that targeting ROCK1 in the hypothalamus may lead to development of anti-obesity therapeutics.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Compulsive behavior is a debilitating clinical feature of many forms of neuropsychiatric disease, including Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders, eating disorders, and autism. Although several studies link striatal dysfunction to compulsivity, the pathophysiology remains poorly understood. Here, we show that both constitutive and induced genetic deletion of the gene encoding the melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R), as well as pharmacologic inhibition of MC4R signaling, normalize compulsive grooming and striatal electrophysiologic impairments in synapse-associated protein 90/postsynaptic density protein 95-associated protein 3 (SAPAP3)-null mice, a model of human obsessive-compulsive disorder. Unexpectedly, genetic deletion of SAPAP3 restores normal weight and metabolic features of MC4R-null mice, a model of human obesity. Our findings offer insights into the pathophysiology and treatment of both compulsive behavior and eating disorders.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melanocortin 4 receptors (MC4Rs) in the central nervous system are key regulators of energy and glucose homeostasis. Notably, obese patients with MC4R mutations are hyperinsulinemic and resistant to obesity-induced hypertension. Although these effects are probably dependent upon the activity of the autonomic nervous system, the cellular effects of MC4Rs on parasympathetic and sympathetic neurons remain undefined. Here, we show that MC4R agonists inhibit parasympathetic preganglionic neurons in the brainstem. In contrast, MC4R agonists activate sympathetic preganglionic neurons in the spinal cord. Deletion of MC4Rs in cholinergic neurons resulted in elevated levels of insulin. Furthermore, re-expression of MC4Rs specifically in cholinergic neurons (including sympathetic preganglionic neurons) restores obesity-associated hypertension in MC4R null mice. These findings provide a cellular correlate of the autonomic side effects associated with MC4R agonists and demonstrate a role for MC4Rs expressed in cholinergic neurons in the regulation of insulin levels and in the development of obesity-induced hypertension.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: VGLUT3-expressing unmyelinated low-threshold mechanoreceptors (C-LTMRs) are proposed to mediate pleasant touch and/or pain, but the molecular programs controlling C-LTMR development are unknown. Here, we performed genetic fate mapping, showing that VGLUT3 lineage sensory neurons are divided into two groups, based on transient or persistent VGLUT3 expression. VGLUT3-transient neurons are large- or medium-diameter myelinated mechanoreceptors that form the Merkel cell-neurite complex. VGLUT3-persistent neurons are small-diameter unmyelinated neurons that are further divided into two subtypes: (1) tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive C-LTMRs that form the longitudinal lanceolate endings around hairs, and (2) TH-negative neurons that form epidermal-free nerve endings. We then found that VGLUT3-persistent neurons express the runt domain transcription factor Runx1. Analyses of mice with a conditional knock-out of Runx1 in VGLUT3 lineage neurons demonstrate that Runx1 is pivotal to the development of VGLUT3-persistent neurons, such as the expression of VGLUT3 and TH and the formation of the longitudinal lanceolate endings. Furthermore, Runx1 is required to establish mechanosensitivity in C-LTMRs, by controlling the expression of the mechanically gated ion channel Piezo2. Surprisingly, both acute and chronic mechanical pain was largely unaffected in these Runx1 mutants. These findings appear to argue against the recently proposed role of VGLUT3 in C-LTMRs in mediating mechanical hypersensitivity induced by nerve injury or inflammation. Thus, our studies provide new insight into the genetic program controlling C-LTMR development and call for a revisit for the physiological functions of C-LTMRs.
Journal of Neuroscience 01/2013; 33(3):870-82. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neural regulation of energy expenditure is incompletely understood. By genetically disrupting GABAergic transmission in a cell-specific fashion, and by combining this with selective pharmacogenetic activation and optogenetic mapping techniques, we have uncovered an arcuate-based circuit that selectively drives energy expenditure. Specifically, mice lacking synaptic GABA release from RIP-Cre neurons have reduced energy expenditure, become obese and are extremely sensitive to high-fat diet-induced obesity, the latter due to defective diet-induced thermogenesis. Leptin's ability to stimulate thermogenesis, but not to reduce feeding, is markedly attenuated. Acute, selective activation of arcuate GABAergic RIP-Cre neurons, which monosynaptically innervate PVH neurons projecting to the NTS, rapidly stimulates brown fat and increases energy expenditure but does not affect feeding. Importantly, this response is dependent upon GABA release from RIP-Cre neurons. Thus, GABAergic RIP-Cre neurons in the arcuate selectively drive energy expenditure, contribute to leptin's stimulatory effect on thermogenesis, and protect against diet-induced obesity.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leptin regulates energy balance. However, knowledge of the critical intracellular transducers of leptin signaling remains incomplete. We found that Rho-kinase 1 (ROCK1) regulates leptin action on body weight homeostasis by activating JAK2, an initial trigger of leptin receptor signaling. Leptin promoted the physical interaction of JAK2 and ROCK1, thereby increasing phosphorylation of JAK2 and downstream activation of Stat3 and FOXO1. Mice lacking ROCK1 in either pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) or agouti-related protein neurons, mediators of leptin action, displayed obesity and impaired leptin sensitivity. In addition, deletion of ROCK1 in the arcuate nucleus markedly enhanced food intake, resulting in severe obesity. Notably, ROCK1 was a specific mediator of leptin, but not insulin, regulation of POMC neuronal activity. Our data identify ROCK1 as a key regulator of leptin action on energy homeostasis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neural activity during development critically shapes postnatal wiring of the mammalian brain. This is best illustrated by the sensory systems, in which the patterned feed-forward excitation provided by sensory organs and experience drives the formation of mature topographic circuits capable of extracting specific features of sensory stimuli. In contrast, little is known about the role of early activity in the development of the basal ganglia, a phylogenetically ancient group of nuclei fundamentally important for complex motor action and reward-based learning. These nuclei lack direct sensory input and are only loosely topographically organized, forming interlocking feed-forward and feed-back inhibitory circuits without laminar structure. Here we use transgenic mice and viral gene transfer methods to modulate neurotransmitter release and neuronal activity in vivo in the developing striatum. We find that the balance of activity between the two inhibitory and antagonist pathways in the striatum regulates excitatory innervation of the basal ganglia during development. These effects indicate that the propagation of activity through a multi-stage network regulates the wiring of the basal ganglia, revealing an important role of positive feedback in driving network maturation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: AgRP neuron activity drives feeding and weight gain whereas that of nearby POMC neurons does the opposite. However, the role of excitatory glutamatergic input in controlling these neurons is unknown. To address this question, we generated mice lacking NMDA receptors (NMDARs) on either AgRP or POMC neurons. Deletion of NMDARs from AgRP neurons markedly reduced weight, body fat and food intake whereas deletion from POMC neurons had no effect. Activation of AgRP neurons by fasting, as assessed by c-Fos, Agrp and Npy mRNA expression, AMPA receptor-mediated EPSCs, depolarization and firing rates, required NMDARs. Furthermore, AgRP but not POMC neurons have dendritic spines and increased glutamatergic input onto AgRP neurons caused by fasting was paralleled by an increase in spines, suggesting fasting induced synaptogenesis and spinogenesis. Thus glutamatergic synaptic transmission and its modulation by NMDARs play key roles in controlling AgRP neurons and determining the cellular and behavioral response to fasting.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dopamine has a central role in motivation and reward. Dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) signal the discrepancy between expected and actual rewards (that is, reward prediction error), but how they compute such signals is unknown. We recorded the activity of VTA neurons while mice associated different odour cues with appetitive and aversive outcomes. We found three types of neuron based on responses to odours and outcomes: approximately half of the neurons (type I, 52%) showed phasic excitation after reward-predicting odours and rewards in a manner consistent with reward prediction error coding; the other half of neurons showed persistent activity during the delay between odour and outcome that was modulated positively (type II, 31%) or negatively (type III, 18%) by the value of outcomes. Whereas the activity of type I neurons was sensitive to actual outcomes (that is, when the reward was delivered as expected compared to when it was unexpectedly omitted), the activity of type II and type III neurons was determined predominantly by reward-predicting odours. We 'tagged' dopaminergic and GABAergic neurons with the light-sensitive protein channelrhodopsin-2 and identified them based on their responses to optical stimulation while recording. All identified dopaminergic neurons were of type I and all GABAergic neurons were of type II. These results show that VTA GABAergic neurons signal expected reward, a key variable for dopaminergic neurons to calculate reward prediction error.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oxytocin neurons represent one of the major subsets of neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH), a critical brain region for energy homeostasis. Despite substantial evidence supporting a role of oxytocin in body weight regulation, it remains controversial whether oxytocin neurons directly regulate body weight homeostasis, feeding or energy expenditure. Pharmacologic doses of oxytocin suppress feeding through a proposed melanocortin responsive projection from the PVH to the hindbrain. In contrast, deficiency in oxytocin or its receptor leads to reduced energy expenditure without feeding abnormalities. To test the physiological function of oxytocin neurons, we specifically ablated oxytocin neurons in adult mice. Our results show that oxytocin neuron ablation in adult animals has no effect on body weight, food intake or energy expenditure on a regular diet. Interestingly, male mice lacking oxytocin neurons are more sensitive to high fat diet-induced obesity due solely to reduced energy expenditure. In addition, despite a normal food intake, these mice exhibit a blunted food intake response to leptin administration. Thus, our study suggests that oxytocin neurons are required to resist the obesity associated with a high fat diet; but their role in feeding is permissive and can be compensated for by redundant pathways.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e45167. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leptin acts in the brain to prevent obesity. The underlying neurocircuitry responsible for this is poorly understood, in part because of incomplete knowledge regarding first-order, leptin-responsive neurons. To address this, we and others have been removing leptin receptors from candidate first-order neurons. While functionally relevant neurons have been identified, the observed effects have been small, suggesting that most first-order neurons remain unidentified. Here we take an alternative approach and test whether first-order neurons are inhibitory (GABAergic, VGAT⁺) or excitatory (glutamatergic, VGLUT2⁺). Remarkably, the vast majority of leptin's antiobesity effects are mediated by GABAergic neurons; glutamatergic neurons play only a minor role. Leptin, working directly on presynaptic GABAergic neurons, many of which appear not to express AgRP, reduces inhibitory tone to postsynaptic POMC neurons. As POMC neurons prevent obesity, their disinhibition by leptin action on presynaptic GABAergic neurons probably mediates, at least in part, leptin's antiobesity effects.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several different neuronal populations are involved in regulating energy homeostasis. Among these, agouti-related protein (AgRP) neurons are thought to promote feeding and weight gain; however, the evidence supporting this view is incomplete. Using designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADD) technology to provide specific and reversible regulation of neuronal activity in mice, we have demonstrated that acute activation of AgRP neurons rapidly and dramatically induces feeding, reduces energy expenditure, and ultimately increases fat stores. All these effects returned to baseline after stimulation was withdrawn. In contrast, inhibiting AgRP neuronal activity in hungry mice reduced food intake. Together, these findings demonstrate that AgRP neuron activity is both necessary and sufficient for feeding. Of interest, activating AgRP neurons potently increased motivation for feeding and also drove intense food-seeking behavior, demonstrating that AgRP neurons engage brain sites controlling multiple levels of feeding behavior. Due to its ease of use and suitability for both acute and chronic regulation, DREADD technology is ideally suited for investigating the neural circuits hypothesized to regulate energy balance.
The Journal of clinical investigation 03/2011; 121(4):1424-8. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Narcolepsy is caused by a loss of orexin/hypocretin signaling, resulting in chronic sleepiness, fragmented non-rapid eye movement sleep, and cataplexy. To identify the neuronal circuits underlying narcolepsy, we produced a mouse model in which a loxP-flanked gene cassette disrupts production of the orexin receptor type 2 (OX2R; also known as HCRTR2), but normal OX2R expression can be restored by Cre recombinase. Mice lacking OX2R signaling had poor maintenance of wakefulness indicative of sleepiness and fragmented sleep and lacked any electrophysiological response to orexin-A in the wake-promoting neurons of the tuberomammillary nucleus. These defects were completely recovered by crossing them with mice that express Cre in the female germline, thus globally deleting the transcription-disrupter cassette. Then, by using an adeno-associated viral vector coding for Cre recombinase, we found that focal restoration of OX2R in neurons of the tuberomammillary nucleus and adjacent parts of the posterior hypothalamus completely rescued the sleepiness of these mice, but their fragmented sleep was unimproved. These observations demonstrate that the tuberomammillary region plays an essential role in the wake-promoting effects of orexins, but orexins must stabilize sleep through other targets.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2011; 108(11):4471-6. · 9.74 Impact Factor