Functional identification of a neurocircuit regulating blood glucose

Associated faculty or student(s): Publication Date:
Monday, March 21, 2016

Previous studies implicate the hypothalamic ventromedial nucleus (VMN) in glycemic control. Here, we report that selective inhibition of the subset of VMN neurons that express the transcription factor steroidogenic-factor 1 (VMNSF1neurons) blocks recovery from insulin-induced hypoglycemia whereas, conversely, activation of VMNSF1neurons causes diabetes-range hyperglycemia. Moreover, this hyperglycemic response is reproduced by selective activation of VMNSF1fibers projecting to the anterior bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (aBNST), but not to other brain areas innervated by VMNSF1neurons. We also report that neurons in the lateral parabrachial nucleus (LPBN), a brain area that is also implicated in the response to hypoglycemia, make synaptic connections with the specific subset of glucoregulatory VMNSF1neurons that project to the aBNST. These results collectively establish a physiological role in glucose homeostasis for VMNSF1neurons and suggest that these neurons are part of an ascending glucoregulatory LPBN→VMNSF1→aBNST neurocircuit.

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