Editors' ChoicePhysiology

Appetite and the Adaptive Brain

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Science's STKE  01 Nov 2005:
Vol. 2005, Issue 308, pp. tw386
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3082005tw386

Appetite and energy balance are regulated by the hypothalamic region of the brain, and considerable progress has been made in defining the underlying neural circuitry. Two studies underscore the emerging idea that these feeding circuits are not firmly "hardwired" but rather exhibit remarkable plasticity, even in adults. Luquet et al. show that specific neurons that are strictly required for the regulation of food intake in adult mice can be removed without detriment in newborn mice, which suggests that the feeding circuitry can readily adapt to change early in life. Kokoeva et al. make the surprising observation that a neurotrophic factor that induces sustained weight loss in adult mice does so by stimulating the proliferation of hypothalamic neurons. Pharmacological inhibition of this neurogenesis compromised the capacity of the neurotrophic factor to induce long-term weight loss. Hypothalamic plasticity thus adds another potentially important layer of complexity to the regulation of body weight.

S. Luquet, F. A. Perez, T. S. Hnasko, R. D. Palmiter, NPY/AgRP neurons are essential for feeding in adult mice but can be ablated in neonates. Science 310, 683-685 (2005). [Abstract] [Full Text]

M. V. Kokoeva, H. Yin, J. S. Flier, Neurogenesis in the hypothalamus of adult mice: Potential role in energy balance. Science 310, 679-683 (2005). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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