Carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT) 1C, a brain-specific protein localized in the endoplasmic reticulum of neurons, is expressed in almost all brain regions. Based on global knockout (KO) models, CPT1C has demonstrated relevance in hippocampus-dependent spatial learning and in hypothalamic regulation of energy balance. Specifically, it has been shown that CPT1C is protective against high-fat diet-induced obesity (DIO), and that CPT1C KO mice show reduced peripheral fatty acid oxidation (FAO) during both fasting and DIO. However, the mechanisms mediating CPT1C-dependent regulation of energy homeostasis remain unclear. Here, we focus on the mechanistic understanding of hypothalamic CPT1C on the regulation of fuel selection in liver and muscle of male mice during energy deprivation situations, such as fasting. In CPT1C-deficient mice, modulation of the main hypothalamic energy sensors (5' adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, Sirtuin 1, and mammalian target of rapamycin) was impaired and plasma catecholamine levels were decreased. Consequently, CPT1C-deficient mice presented defective fasting-induced FAO in liver, leading to higher triacylglycerol accumulation and lower glycogen levels. Moreover, muscle pyruvate dehydrogenase activity was increased, which was indicative of glycolysis enhancement. The respiratory quotient did not decrease in CPT1C KO mice after 48 hours of fasting, confirming a defective switch on fuel substrate selection under hypoglycemia. Phenotype reversion studies identified the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) as the main area mediating CPT1C effects on fuel selection. Overall, our data demonstrate that CPT1C in the MBH is necessary for proper hypothalamic sensing of a negative energy balance and fuel partitioning in liver and muscle.
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