Neural circuits underlying thirst and fluid homeostasis

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2017 Aug;18(8):459-469. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2017.71. Epub 2017 Jun 22.


Thirst motivates animals to find and consume water. More than 40 years ago, a set of interconnected brain structures known as the lamina terminalis was shown to govern thirst. However, owing to the anatomical complexity of these brain regions, the structure and dynamics of their underlying neural circuitry have remained obscure. Recently, the emergence of new tools for neural recording and manipulation has reinvigorated the study of this circuit and prompted re-examination of longstanding questions about the neural origins of thirst. Here, we review these advances, discuss what they teach us about the control of drinking behaviour and outline the key questions that remain unanswered.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Drinking Behavior / physiology*
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Thirst / physiology*