The hypothalamus is a crucial organ for the maintenance of appropriate body fat storage. Neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARH) detect energy shortage or surplus via the circulating concentrations of metabolic hormones and nutrients, and then coordinate energy intake and expenditure to maintain energy homeostasis. Malfunction or loss of hypothalamic ARH neurons results in obesity. Accumulated evidence suggests that hypothalamic inflammation is a key pathological mechanism that links chronic overconsumption of a high-fat diet (HFD) with the development of obesity and related metabolic complications. Interestingly, overnutrition-induced hypothalamic inflammation occurs specifically in the ARH, where microglia initiate an inflammatory response by releasing proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines in response to excessive fatty acid flux. Upon more prolonged HFD consumption, astrocytes and perivascular macrophages become involved and sustain hypothalamic inflammation. ARH neurons are victims of hypothalamic inflammation, but they may actively participate in hypothalamic inflammation by sending quiescence or stress signals to surrounding glia. In this mini-review, we describe the current state of knowledge regarding the contributions of neurons and glia, and their interactions, to HFD-induced hypothalamic inflammation.
Keywords: glia; hypothalamus; inflammation; neurons; obesity.
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