Nav: Home

Hungry? A newly discovered neural circuit may be the cause

July 05, 2018

A particular subset of neurons located in an enigmatic region of the hypothalamus plays a central role in regulating feeding and body weight in mice, a new study reveals. The results illuminate a previously unknown neural mechanism of feeding regulation and offer new perspectives on understanding changes in appetite. Knowledge of the function of a region of the hypothalamus called the nucleus tuberalis lateralis, or NTL, is scarce, though scientists seek to better understand it as damage to this brain region in patients results in marked declines in appetite, and in rapid loss in body weight. To further explore any role the NTL may have in regulation of feeding and body weight, Sarah Xinwei Luo and colleagues observed the behavior of somatostatin (SST) neurons in the NTL using a mouse model. The authors found that the SST neurons were activated by both hunger (following overnight food deprivation) and after administration of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Selective activation and deactivation of the neurons, using both drugs and optogenetics, demonstrated that eating behavior could be controlled - activation increased eating behavior, while inhibition significantly reduced it. Total elimination of the neurons altogether resulted in decreased daily food intake as well as gradual weight gain. According to the study's findings, SST neurons are required for controlling healthy eating and body weight. In a related Perspective, Sabrina Diano notes that Luo et al.'s results are highly relevant - efforts to affect body weight and other physiological impairments associated with aberrant feeding behaviors, like obesity or anorexia nervosa, have been futile. Despite the translational uncertainty between the neural circuitry of mice and humans, Luo et al.'s results are novel and warrant further investigation, says Diano.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Neurons Articles:

New tool to identify and control neurons
One of the big challenges in the Neuroscience field is to understand how connections and communications trigger our behavior.
Neurons that regenerate, neurons that die
In a new study published in Neuron, investigators report on a transcription factor that they have found that can help certain neurons regenerate, while simultaneously killing others.
How neurons use crowdsourcing to make decisions
When many individual neurons collect data, how do they reach a unanimous decision?
Neurons can learn temporal patterns
Individual neurons can learn not only single responses to a particular signal, but also a series of reactions at precisely timed intervals.
A turbo engine for tracing neurons
Putting a turbo engine into an old car gives it an entirely new life -- suddenly it can go further, faster.
Brain neurons help keep track of time
Turning the theory of how the human brain perceives time on its head, a novel analysis in mice reveals that dopamine neuron activity plays a key role in judgment of time, slowing down the internal clock.
During infancy, neurons are still finding their places
Researchers have identified a large population of previously unrecognized young neurons that migrate in the human brain during the first few months of life, contributing to the expansion of the frontal lobe, a region important for social behavior and executive function.
How many types of neurons are there in the brain?
For decades, scientists have struggled to develop a comprehensive census of cell types in the brain.
Molecular body guards for neurons
In the brain, patterns of neural activity are perfectly balanced.
Engineering researchers use laser to 'weld' neurons
University of Alberta researchers have developed a method of connecting neurons, using ultrashort laser pulses -- a breakthrough technique that opens the door to new medical research and treatment opportunities.

Related Neurons Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...