Approximately two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese and therefore at increased risk for developing diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, some forms of cancer and other health serious problems. A better understanding of the physiological mechanisms that regulate energy balance is a key step towards developing therapeutic approaches to prevent and treat obesity. Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus release multiple neuropeptides that are necessary for the maintenance of normal energy balance. POMC neurons also release classical neurotransmitters, however the role of synaptic transmitters in POMC neurons has not been well-studied. The goal of the proposed work is to test the overall hypothesis that subsets of POMC neurons release different classical neurotransmitters and that this heterogeneity among POMC neurons is important in the regulation of energy balance. The following specific hypotheses will be tested: 1) That subpopulations of POMC neurons can be defined by the presence and release of GABA or glutamate. Transgenic mice with co-labeled POMC, GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons will be used to examine the neurotransmitter phenotype of subsets of POMC neurons and the effects that obesity and leptin treatment have on the rapid transmitter phenotype of POMC neurons will be determined. 2) That there is differential regulation of subsets of POMC neurons. The presynaptic regulation and basal activity of subsets of POMC neurons will be studied using electrophysiological recordings and the effects that leptin and fasting have on these parameters in each subpopulation will be studied. 3) That GABAergic and glutamatergic POMC neurons project to distinct target sites. Retrograde labeling experiments will be performed in transgenic mice to identify where specific populations of POMC neurons project. The results of these studies will provide a clearer picture of how POMC neurons function in the CNS circuitry controlling energy balance. 7.

Public Health Relevance

Obesity contributes to about 112,000 deaths per year and is the primary reason for over $75 billion in heath care expenditures in the United States. A better understanding of the physiological mechanisms that regulate energy balance is a key step towards developing therapeutic approaches to prevent and treat obesity. This study will determine how specific neurons in the brain that are critical for the maintenance of normal energy balance are regulated.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Integrative Physiology of Obesity and Diabetes Study Section (IPOD)
Program Officer
Hyde, James F
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Colorado State University-Fort Collins
Veterinary Sciences
Schools of Veterinary Medicine
Fort Collins
United States
Zip Code
Jarvie, Brooke C; King, Connie M; Hughes, Alexander R et al. (2017) Caloric restriction selectively reduces the GABAergic phenotype of mouse hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin neurons. J Physiol 595:571-582
Fox, Philip D; Hentges, Shane T (2017) Differential Desensitization Observed at Multiple Effectors of Somatic ?-Opioid Receptors Underlies Sustained Agonist-Mediated Inhibition of Proopiomelanocortin Neuron Activity. J Neurosci 37:8667-8677
Rau, Andrew R; Hentges, Shane T (2017) The Relevance of AgRP Neuron-Derived GABA Inputs to POMC Neurons Differs for Spontaneous and Evoked Release. J Neurosci 37:7362-7372
Dennison, Christina S; King, Connie M; Dicken, Matthew S et al. (2016) Age-dependent changes in amino acid phenotype and the role of glutamate release from hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin neurons. J Comp Neurol 524:1222-35
Dicken, Matthew S; Hughes, Alexander R; Hentges, Shane T (2015) Gad1 mRNA as a reliable indicator of altered GABA release from orexigenic neurons in the hypothalamus. Eur J Neurosci 42:2644-53
Pennock, Reagan L; Hentges, Shane T (2014) Direct inhibition of hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin neurons by dynorphin A is mediated by the ?-opioid receptor. J Physiol 592:4247-56
Matsui, Aya; Jarvie, Brooke C; Robinson, Brooks G et al. (2014) Separate GABA afferents to dopamine neurons mediate acute action of opioids, development of tolerance, and expression of withdrawal. Neuron 82:1346-56
Sheridan, D C; Hughes, A R; Erdélyi, F et al. (2014) Matching of feedback inhibition with excitation ensures fidelity of information flow in the anterior piriform cortex. Neuroscience 275:519-30
Mercer, Aaron J; Hentges, Shane T; Meshul, Charles K et al. (2013) Unraveling the central proopiomelanocortin neural circuits. Front Neurosci 7:19
Ha, Sangdeuk; Baver, Scott; Huo, Lihong et al. (2013) Somato-dendritic localization and signaling by leptin receptors in hypothalamic POMC and AgRP neurons. PLoS One 8:e77622

Showing the most recent 10 out of 17 publications