Background: Embryonic neurogenesis and differentiation in the hypothalamic feeding circuitry is under the control of a variety of diffused morphogens and intrinsic transcription factors, leading to the unique structural and functional characteristics of each nucleus.
Scope of review: The transcriptional regulation of the development of feeding neuroendocrine systems during the period of embryonic neurogenesis and differentiation will be reviewed here, with a special emphasis on genetic and environmental manipulations that yield an adverse metabolic phenotype.
Major conclusions: Emerging data suggest that developmental mechanisms can be perturbed not only by genetic manipulation, but also by manipulations to maternal nutrition during the gestational period, leading to long-lasting behavioral, neurobiological, and metabolic consequences. Leptin is neurotrophic in the embryonic brain, and given that it varies in proportion to maternal energy balance, may mediate these effects through an interaction with the mechanisms of hypothalamic development.
Keywords: Basic helix-loop helix; Developmental origins of health and disease; Hypothalamic neurogenesis; Leptin.