Acute effects of zinc and insulin on arcuate anorexigenic proopiomelanocortin neurons

Zhenyan He, Yong Gao, Linh Lieu, Sadia Afrin, Hongbo Guo, Kevin W. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Acute insulin administration hyperpolarized, with concomitant decrease of firing rate, a subpopulation of arcuate proopiomelanocortin (POMC) and neuropeptide Y/agouti-related peptide cells. This rapid effect on cellular activity has been proposed as a cellular correlate of insulin effects on energy balance and glucose homoeostasis. Recent evidence suggests that zinc in mammalian insulin formulations is required for the insulin-induced inhibition of arcuate POMC neurons, while guinea pig insulin, which fails to bind zinc, activates POMC neurons in mice. Here, we tested the effects of zinc and insulin formations on arcuate POMC neurons. Experimental Approach: Effects of zinc and insulin formulations were assessed through whole-cell patch clamp recordings on transgenic mice in vitro. Key Results: Insulin formulations containing zinc hyperpolarized POMC neurons. Zinc also hyperpolarized arcuate POMC neurons, albeit at much higher concentration than found in various insulin formulations. Chelation of zinc inhibited the zinc-induced hyperpolarization of POMC neurons, whereas effects of insulin on POMC cellular activity were unchanged after chelation. Zinc-free insulin also hyperpolarized arcuate POMC neurons. Insulin failed to hyperpolarize POMC neurons deficient for insulin receptors, suggesting that insulin receptors are required for these effects. Activation of POMC neurons by guinea pig insulin was independent of insulin receptors but was inhibited by PDGF receptor antagonism or loss of TRPC5 channel subunits. Conclusions and Implications: Together, these findings suggest that insulin inhibited arcuate POMC neurons independent of zinc and highlights a possible role of putative PDGF receptors in the acute effects of guinea pig insulin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-736
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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