Obesity-associated low-grade inflammation favors weight gain, whereas systemic infection frequently leads to anorexia. Thus, inflammatory signals can either induce positive or negative energy balance. In this study, we used whole-cell patch-clamp to investigate the acute effects of three important proinflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), interleukin-6, and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) on the membrane excitability of agouti-related peptide (AgRP)- or proopiomelanocortin (POMC)-producing neurons. We found that both TNF-α and IL-1β acutely inhibited the activity of 35-42% of AgRP-producing neurons, whereas very few POMC neurons were depolarized by TNF-α. Interleukin-6 induced no acute changes in the activity of AgRP or POMC neurons. Our findings indicate that the effect of TNF-α and IL-1β, especially on the activity of AgRP-producing neurons, may contribute to inflammation-induced anorexia observed during acute inflammatory conditions.
Keywords: POMC; cytokines; inflammation; interleukin-6; obesity; sepsis.