Neuronal activation in the hypothalamus and brainstem during feeding in rats

Cell Metab. 2006 Oct;4(4):313-21. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2006.08.003.


We trained rats to a regime of scheduled feeding, in which food was available for only 2 hr each day. After 10 days, rats were euthanized at defined times relative to food availability, and their brains were analyzed to map Fos expression in neuronal populations to test the hypothesis that some populations are activated by hunger whereas others are activated by satiety signals. Fos expression accompanied feeding in several hypothalamic and brainstem nuclei. Food ingestion was critical for Fos expression in noradrenergic and non-noradrenergic cells in the nucleus tractus solitarii and area postrema and in the supraoptic nucleus, as well as in melanocortin-containing cells of the arcuate nucleus. However, anticipation of food alone activated other neurons in the arcuate nucleus and in the lateral and ventromedial hypothalamus, including orexin neurons. Thus orexigenic populations are strongly and rapidly activated at the onset of food presentation, followed rapidly by activity in anorexigenic populations when food is ingested.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / metabolism*
  • Brain Stem / ultrastructure
  • Eating
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamus / ultrastructure
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos