Regulation of glucose tolerance and sympathetic activity by MC4R signaling in the lateral hypothalamus

Diabetes. 2015 Jun;64(6):1976-87. doi: 10.2337/db14-1257. Epub 2015 Jan 20.


Melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) signaling mediates diverse physiological functions, including energy balance, glucose homeostasis, and autonomic activity. Although the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) is known to express MC4Rs and to receive input from leptin-responsive arcuate proopiomelanocortin neurons, the physiological functions of MC4Rs in the LHA are incompletely understood. We report that MC4R(LHA) signaling regulates glucose tolerance and sympathetic nerve activity. Restoring expression of MC4Rs specifically in the LHA improves glucose intolerance in obese MC4R-null mice without affecting body weight or circulating insulin levels. Fluorodeoxyglucose-mediated tracing of whole-body glucose uptake identifies the interscapular brown adipose tissue (iBAT) as a primary source where glucose uptake is increased in MC4R(LHA) mice. Direct multifiber sympathetic nerve recording further reveals that sympathetic traffic to iBAT is significantly increased in MC4R(LHA) mice, which accompanies a significant elevation of Glut4 expression in iBAT. Finally, bilateral iBAT denervation prevents the glucoregulatory effect of MC4R(LHA) signaling. These results identify a novel role for MC4R(LHA) signaling in the control of sympathetic nerve activity and glucose tolerance independent of energy balance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Eating / physiology
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / genetics
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / metabolism*


  • MC4R protein, mouse
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4
  • Glucose