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Refeeding-activated glutamatergic neurons in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) mediate effects of melanocortin signaling in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS)

Singru, PS;Wittmann, G;Farkas, E;Zsli, G;Fekete, C;Lechan, RM;

We previously demonstrated that refeeding after a prolonged fast activates a subset of neurons in the ventral parvocellular subdivision of the paraventricular nucleus (PVNv) as a result of increased melanocortin signaling. To determine whether these neurons contribute to satiety by projecting to the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), the retrogradely transported marker substance, cholera toxin- (CTB), was injected into the dorsal vagal complex of rats that were subsequently fasted and refed for 2 h. By double-labeling immunohistochemistry, CTB accumulation was found in the cytoplasm of the majority of refeeding-activated c-Fos neurons in the ventral parvocellular subdivision of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVNv). In addition, a large number of refeeding-activated c-Fos-expressing neurons were observed in the lateral parvocellular subdivision (PVNl) that also contained CTB and were innervated by axon terminals of proopiomelanocortin neurons. To visualize the location of neuronal activation within the NTS by melanocortin-activated PVN neurons, -MSH was focally injected into the PVN, resulting in an increased number of c-Fos-containing neurons in the PVN and in the NTS, primarily in the medial and commissural parts. All refeeding-activated neurons in the PVNv and PVNl expressed the mRNA of the glutamatergic marker, type 2 vesicular glutamate transporter (VGLUT2), indicating their glutamatergic phenotype, but only rare neurons contained oxytocin. These data suggest that melanocortin-activated neurons in the PVNv and PVNl may contribute to refeeding-induced satiety through effects on the NTS and may alter the sensitivity of NTS neurons to vagal satiety inputs via glutamate excitation.