Nutrient-sensing hypothalamic TXNIP links nutrient excess to energy imbalance in mice

J Neurosci. 2011 Apr 20;31(16):6019-27. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6498-10.2011.


Nutrient excess in obesity and diabetes is emerging as a common putative cause for multiple deleterious effects across diverse cell types, responsible for a variety of metabolic dysfunctions. The hypothalamus is acknowledged as an important regulator of whole-body energy homeostasis, through both detection of nutrient availability and coordination of effectors that determine nutrient intake and utilization, thus preventing cellular and whole-body nutrient excess. However, the mechanisms underlying hypothalamic nutrient detection and its impact on peripheral nutrient utilization remain poorly understood. Recent data suggest a role for thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) as a molecular nutrient sensor important in the regulation of energy metabolism, but the role of hypothalamic TXNIP in the regulation of energy balance has not been evaluated. Here we show in mice that TXNIP is expressed in nutrient-sensing neurons of the mediobasal hypothalamus, responds to hormonal and nutrient signals, and regulates adipose tissue metabolism, fuel partitioning, and glucose homeostasis. Hypothalamic expression of TXNIP is induced by acute nutrient excess and in mouse models of obesity and diabetes, and downregulation of mediobasal hypothalamic TXNIP expression prevents diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Thus, mediobasal hypothalamic TXNIP plays a critical role in nutrient sensing and the regulation of fuel utilization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Energy Intake / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamus / physiopathology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Leptin / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Thioredoxins / genetics
  • Thioredoxins / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Txnip protein, mouse
  • Thioredoxins
  • Glucose