Hypothalamic obesity: multiple routes mediated by loss of function in medial cell groups

Endocrinology. 1999 Sep;140(9):4081-8. doi: 10.1210/endo.140.9.6964.


Cell groups of the medial hypothalamus are key to the regulation of energy balance. Functional disruption by colchicine injected in the hypothalamic arcuate (ARC), paraventricular (PVN), and ventromedial (VMN) cell groups produced increased food intake and obesity; disruption of the dorsomedial nuclei (DMN) produced decreased food intake. Colchicine in ARC or PVN increased food intake during both light and dark periods and increased cumulative food intake. By contrast, colchicine in VMN increased food intake only during the light, and cumulative food intake was not increased. Both leptin and insulin were elevated in the obese rats. Compared with sham, the slope of regression of leptin on insulin was increased by disruption of PVN and DMN but was not altered by disruption of VMN. ARC disruption abolished the relationship between leptin and insulin. Colchicine injected in the DMN did not cause obesity but altered feeding and the normal relationship between leptin, fat, and insulin, suggesting that blockade of signals, for example, from the lateral hypothalamus to DMN may disinhibit the normal medial hypothalamic drive to decrease energy stores. Changes in caloric efficiency with time after colchicine injections suggest that rats with both ARC and PVN disruption respond to signals of obesity, whereas rats with VMN disruption do not. These studies distinguish among functions in the four medial hypothalamic nuclei and suggest that interactions among them normally serve to regulate energy balance through alterations in food acquisition and storage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / drug effects
  • Colchicine / administration & dosage
  • Colchicine / pharmacology
  • Dorsomedial Hypothalamic Nucleus / drug effects
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Hypothalamic Diseases / chemically induced
  • Hypothalamic Diseases / complications*
  • Hypothalamic Diseases / pathology
  • Injections
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin
  • Male
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / drug effects
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Ventromedial Hypothalamic Nucleus / drug effects


  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Proteins
  • Colchicine