A rapidly acting glutamatergic ARC→PVH satiety circuit postsynaptically regulated by α-MSH

Nat Neurosci. 2017 Jan;20(1):42-51. doi: 10.1038/nn.4442. Epub 2016 Nov 21.


Arcuate nucleus (ARC) neurons sense the fed or fasted state and regulate hunger. Agouti-related protein (AgRP) neurons in the ARC (ARCAgRP neurons) are stimulated by fasting and, once activated, they rapidly (within minutes) drive hunger. Pro-opiomelanocortin (ARCPOMC) neurons are viewed as the counterpoint to ARCAgRP neurons. They are regulated in an opposite fashion and decrease hunger. However, unlike ARCAgRP neurons, ARCPOMC neurons are extremely slow in affecting hunger (many hours). Thus, a temporally analogous, rapid ARC satiety pathway does not exist or is presently unidentified. Here we show that glutamate-releasing ARC neurons expressing oxytocin receptor, unlike ARCPOMC neurons, rapidly cause satiety when chemo- or optogenetically manipulated. These glutamatergic ARC projections synaptically converge with GABAergic ARCAgRP projections on melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R)-expressing satiety neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVHMC4R neurons). Transmission across the ARCGlutamatergic→PVHMC4R synapse is potentiated by the ARCPOMC neuron-derived MC4R agonist, α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH). This excitatory ARC→PVH satiety circuit, and its modulation by α-MSH, provides insight into regulation of hunger and satiety.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Hunger / physiology
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin / metabolism
  • Synaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • alpha-MSH / metabolism*


  • alpha-MSH
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin