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Neural control of fasting-induced torpor in mice

Hitrec, T;Luppi, M;Bastianini, S;Squarcio, F;Berteotti, C;Lo Martire, V;Martelli, D;Occhinegro, A;Tupone, D;Zoccoli, G;Amici, R;Cerri, M;

Torpor is a peculiar mammalian behaviour, characterized by the active reduction of metabolic rate, followed by a drop in body temperature. To enter torpor, the activation of all thermogenic organs that could potentially defend body temperature must be prevented. Most of these organs, such as the brown adipose tissue, are controlled by the key thermoregulatory region of the Raphe Pallidus (RPa). Currently, it is not known which brain areas mediate the entrance into torpor. To identify these areas, the expression of the early gene c-Fos at torpor onset was assessed in different brain regions in mice injected with a retrograde tracer (Cholera Toxin subunit b, CTb) into the RPa region. The results show a network of hypothalamic neurons that are specifically activated at torpor onset and a direct torpor-specific projection from the Dorsomedial Hypothalamus to the RPa that could putatively mediate the suppression of thermogenesis during torpor.