Activation of melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4Rs) restrains feeding and prevents obesity; however, the identity, location, and axonal projections of the neurons bearing MC4Rs that control feeding remain unknown. Reexpression of MC4Rs on single-minded 1 (SIM1)+neurons in mice otherwise lacking MC4Rs is sufficient to abolish hyperphagia. Thus, MC4Rs on SIM1+neurons, possibly in the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH) and/or amygdala, regulate food intake. It is unknown, however, whether they are also necessary, a distinction required for excluding redundant sites of action. Hence, the location and nature of obesity-preventing MC4R-expressing neurons are unknown. Here, by deleting and reexpressing MC4Rs from cre-expressing neurons, establishing both necessity and sufficiency, we demonstrate that the MC4R-expressing neurons regulating feeding are SIM1+, located in the PVH, glutamatergic and not GABAergic, and do not express oxytocin, corticotropin-releasing hormone, vasopressin, or prodynorphin. Importantly, these excitatory MC4R-expressing PVH neurons are synaptically connected to neurons in the parabrachial nucleus, which relays visceral information to the forebrain. This suggests a basis for the feeding-regulating effects of MC4Rs.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 2014|
ASJC Scopus subject areas