Identification of a neurocircuit underlying regulation of feeding by stress-related emotional responses

Nat Commun. 2019 Aug 1;10(1):3446. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11399-z.


Feeding is known to be profoundly affected by stress-related emotional states and eating disorders are comorbid with psychiatric symptoms and altered emotional responses. The neural basis underlying feeding regulation by stress-related emotional changes is poorly understood. Here, we identify a novel projection from the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH) to the ventral lateral septum (LSv) that shows a scalable regulation on feeding and behavioral changes related to emotion. Weak photostimulation of glutamatergic PVH→LSv terminals elicits stress-related self-grooming and strong photostimulation causes fear-related escape jumping associated with respective weak and strong inhibition on feeding. In contrast, inhibition of glutamatergic inputs to LSv increases feeding with signs of reduced anxiety. LSv-projecting neurons are concentrated in rostral PVH. LSv and LSv-projecting PVH neurons are activated by stressors in vivo, whereas feeding bouts were associated with reduced activity of these neurons. Thus, PVH→LSv neurotransmission underlies dynamic feeding by orchestrating emotional states, providing a novel neural circuit substrate underlying comorbidity between eating abnormalities and psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agents
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders
  • Grooming / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Psychological Distress*
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2 / genetics
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2 / metabolism
  • Vesicular Inhibitory Amino Acid Transport Proteins / metabolism


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agents
  • Slc17a6 protein, mouse
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2
  • Vesicular Inhibitory Amino Acid Transport Proteins
  • Viaat protein, mouse