Activation of AMPK-Regulated CRH Neurons in the PVH Is Sufficient and Necessary to Induce Dietary Preference for Carbohydrate Over Fat

Cell Rep. 2018 Jan 16;22(3):706-721. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.11.102.


Food selection is essential for metabolic homeostasis and is influenced by nutritional state, food palatability, and social factors such as stress. However, the mechanism responsible for selection between a high-carbohydrate diet (HCD) and a high-fat diet (HFD) remains unknown. Here, we show that activation of a subset of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)-positive neurons in the rostral region of the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH) induces selection of an HCD over an HFD in mice during refeeding after fasting, resulting in a rapid recovery from the change in ketone metabolism. These neurons manifest activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) during food deprivation, and this activation is necessary and sufficient for selection of an HCD over an HFD. Furthermore, this effect is mediated by carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1c (CPT1c). Thus, our results identify the specific neurons and intracellular signaling pathway responsible for regulation of the complex behavior of selection between an HCD and an HFD. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Keywords: AMPK; CPT1c; CRH; PVH; food preference.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Carbohydrates
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Diet
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neurons / physiology*


  • Carbohydrates
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases