The impact of antidiabetic treatment on human hypothalamic infundibular neurons and microglia

JCI Insight. 2020 Aug 20;5(16):e133868. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.133868.


Animal studies indicate that hypothalamic dysfunction plays a major role in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) development, and that insulin resistance and inflammation are important mechanisms involved in this disorder. However, it remains unclear how T2DM and antidiabetic treatments affect the human hypothalamus. Here, we characterized the proopiomelanocortin (POMC) immunoreactive (-ir) neurons, the neuropeptide-Y-ir (NPY-ir) neurons, the ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1-ir (iba1-ir) microglia, and the transmembrane protein 119-ir (TMEM119-ir) microglia in the infundibular nucleus (IFN) of human postmortem hypothalamus of 32 T2DM subjects with different antidiabetic treatments and 17 matched nondiabetic control subjects. Compared with matched control subjects, T2DM subjects showed a decrease in the number of POMC-ir neurons, but no changes in NPY-ir neurons or microglia. Interestingly, T2DM subjects treated with the antidiabetic drug metformin had fewer NPY-ir neurons and microglia than T2DM subjects not treated with metformin. We found that the number of microglia correlated with the number of NPY-ir neurons, but only in T2DM subjects. These results indicate that different changes in POMC and NPY neurons and microglial cells in the IFN accompany T2DM. In addition, T2DM treatment modality is associated with highly selective changes in hypothalamic neurons and microglial cells.

Keywords: Diabetes; Endocrinology; Insulin; NPY; Neuroscience.