Journal Of Thermal Biology
The mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) contains heterogeneous neuronal populations that regulate food intake and energy expenditure. However, the role of MBH neurons in the neural control of thermoeffector activity for thermoregulation is not known. This study sought to determine the effects of modulating the activity of MBH neurons on the sympathetic outflow to brown adipose tissue (BAT), BAT thermogenesis, and cutaneous vasomotion. Pharmacological inhibition of MBH neurons by local administration of muscimol, a GABAA receptor agonist, reduced skin cooling-evoked BAT thermogenesis, expired CO2, body temperature, heart rate, and mean arterial pressure, while blockade of GABAA receptors by nanoinjection of bicuculline in the MBH induced large increases in BAT sympathetic nerve activity (SNA), BAT temperature, body temperature, expired CO2, heart rate, and cutaneous vasoconstriction. Neurons in the MBH send projections to neurons in the dorsal hypothalamic area and dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH), which excite sympathetic premotor neurons in the rostral raphe pallidus area (rRPa) that control sympathetic outflow to BAT. The increases in BAT SNA, BAT temperature, and expired CO2 elicited by blockade of GABAA receptors in the MBH were reversed by blocking excitatory amino acid receptors in the DMH or in the rRPa. Together, our data show that MBH neurons provide a modest contribution to BAT thermogenesis for cold defense, while GABAergic disinhibition of these neurons produces large increases in the sympathetic outflow to BAT, and cutaneous vasoconstriction. Activation of glutamate receptors on BAT thermogenesis-promoting neurons of the DMH and rRPa is necessary for the increased sympathetic outflow to BAT evoked by disinhibition of MBH neurons. These data demonstrate neural mechanisms that contribute to the control of thermoeffector activity, and may have important implications for regulating body temperature and energy expenditure.