Regulation of feeding by somatostatin neurons in the tuberal nucleus

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Science  06 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6397, pp. 76-81
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar4983

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Neurons that regulate feeding

The tuberal nucleus, an area of the hypothalamus, has not been studied in great detail. Luo et al. found that GABAergic somatostatin neurons in the tuberal nucleus are functionally involved in the regulation of feeding in mice (GABA, γ-aminobutyric acid) (see the Perspective by Diano). These neurons were activated by food deprivation or hunger hormone. Loss- and gain-of-function experiments indicated that these cells are necessary and sufficient to control systemic metabolic balance. This newly described regulatory center is extensively connected with other feeding control circuits via projections to other hypothalamic nuclei.

Science, this issue p. 76; see also p. 29


The tuberal nucleus (TN) is a surprisingly understudied brain region. We found that somatostatin (SST) neurons in the TN, which is known to exhibit pathological or cytological changes in human neurodegenerative diseases, play a crucial role in regulating feeding in mice. GABAergic tuberal SST (TNSST) neurons were activated by hunger and by the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Activation of TNSST neurons promoted feeding, whereas inhibition reduced it via projections to the paraventricular nucleus and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Ablation of TNSST neurons reduced body weight gain and food intake. These findings reveal a previously unknown mechanism of feeding regulation that operates through orexigenic TNSST neurons, providing a new perspective for understanding appetite changes.

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