The Inhibitory Circuit Architecture of the Lateral Hypothalamus Orchestrates Feeding

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Science  27 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6153, pp. 1517-1521
DOI: 10.1126/science.1241812

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The Overeating Connection

Obesity has become a major global health problem. Working in mice, Jennings et al. (p. 1517) identified an important brain circuit within the lateral hypothalamus that modulates food intake. The findings reveal the neuronal connections that drive the consumption of highly palatable food even when energy needs are satisfied. Inhibition of this circuit suppressed feeding.


The growing prevalence of overeating disorders is a key contributor to the worldwide obesity epidemic. Dysfunction of particular neural circuits may trigger deviations from adaptive feeding behaviors. The lateral hypothalamus (LH) is a crucial neural substrate for motivated behavior, including feeding, but the precise functional neurocircuitry that controls LH neuronal activity to engage feeding has not been defined. We observed that inhibitory synaptic inputs from the extended amygdala preferentially innervate and suppress the activity of LH glutamatergic neurons to control food intake. These findings help explain how dysregulated activity at a number of unique nodes can result in a cascading failure within a defined brain network to produce maladaptive feeding.

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