Cover Story Current Issue

White adipose tissue (WAT) is a complex organ that plays a central role in systemic energy balance through its interrelated metabolic, endocrine, and immune functions. Adipocytes, the parenchymal cells of adipose tissue, have diverse functions that include storage and mobilization of lipids. They also release endocrine signals that report energy status to the brain, regulating metabolic functions in peripheral organs. Importantly, the metabolic character of white adipocytes is flexible, with cells capable of assuming distinct anabolic and catabolic/thermogenic phenotypes, often within the same adipose tissue depot

Elizabeth A. Rondini, Vanesa D. Ramseyer, Rayanne B. Burl, Roger Pique-Regi, James G. Granneman

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Current Issue

Adult-born proopiomelanocortin neurons derived from Rax-expressing precursors mitigate the metabolic effects of congenital hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin deficiency

Surbhi, Gábor Wittmann, Malcolm J. Low, Ronald M. Lechan

Objective

Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons of the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus are essential regulators of energy balance. Selective loss of POMC production in these cells results in extreme obesity and metabolic comorbidities. Neurogenesis occurs in the adult hypothalamus, but it remains uncertain whether functional POMC neurons emerge in physiologically significant numbers during adulthood. Here, we tested whether Rax-expressing precursors generate POMC neurons in adult mice and rescue the metabolic phenotype caused by congenital hypothalamic POMC deficiency.

Methods

Initially, we identified hypothalamic Rax-expressing cell types using wild-type and Rax-CreERT2:Ai34D mice. Then we generated compound Rax-CreERT2:ArcPomcloxTB/loxTB mice in which endogenous hypothalamic Pomcexpression is silenced, but can be restored by tamoxifen administration selectively in neurons derived from Rax+ progenitors. The number of POMC neurons generated by Rax+ progenitors in adult mice and their axonal projections was determined. The metabolic effects of these neurons were assessed by measuring food intake, bodyweight, and body composition, along with glucose and insulin levels.

Results

We found that Rax is expressed by tanycytes and a previously unrecognized cell type in the hypothalamic parenchyma of adult mice. Rax+ progenitors generated ~10% of the normal adult hypothalamic POMC neuron population within two weeks of tamoxifen treatment. The same rate and steady state of POMC neurogenesis persisted from young adult to aged mice. These new POMC neurons established terminal projections to brain regions that were involved in energy homeostasis. Mice with Rax+ progenitor-derived POMC neurons had reduced body fat mass, improved glucose tolerance, increased insulin sensitivity, and decreased bodyweight in proportion to the number of new POMC neurons.

Conclusions

These data demonstrate that Rax+ progenitors generate POMC neurons in sufficient numbers during adulthood to mitigate the metabolic abnormalities of hypothalamic POMC-deficient mice. The findings suggest that adult hypothalamic neurogenesis is a robust phenomenon in mice that can significantly impact energy 

Adult-born proopiomelanocortin neurons derived from Rax-expressing precursors mitigate the metabolic effects of congenital hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin deficiency

Surbhi, Gábor Wittmann, Malcolm J. Low, Ronald M. Lechan

Objective

Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons of the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus are essential regulators of energy balance. Selective loss of POMC production in these cells results in extreme obesity and metabolic comorbidities. Neurogenesis occurs in the adult hypothalamus, but it remains uncertain whether functional POMC neurons emerge in physiologically significant numbers during adulthood. Here, we tested whether Rax-expressing precursors generate POMC neurons in adult mice and rescue the metabolic phenotype caused by congenital hypothalamic POMC deficiency.

Methods

Initially, we identified hypothalamic Rax-expressing cell types using wild-type and Rax-CreERT2:Ai34D mice. Then we generated compound Rax-CreERT2:ArcPomcloxTB/loxTB mice in which endogenous hypothalamic Pomcexpression is silenced, but can be restored by tamoxifen administration selectively in neurons derived from Rax+ progenitors. The number of POMC neurons generated by Rax+ progenitors in adult mice and their axonal projections was determined. The metabolic effects of these neurons were assessed by measuring food intake, bodyweight, and body composition, along with glucose and insulin levels.

Results

We found that Rax is expressed by tanycytes and a previously unrecognized cell type in the hypothalamic parenchyma of adult mice. Rax+ progenitors generated ~10% of the normal adult hypothalamic POMC neuron population within two weeks of tamoxifen treatment. The same rate and steady state of POMC neurogenesis persisted from young adult to aged mice. These new POMC neurons established terminal projections to brain regions that were involved in energy homeostasis. Mice with Rax+ progenitor-derived POMC neurons had reduced body fat mass, improved glucose tolerance, increased insulin sensitivity, and decreased bodyweight in proportion to the number of new POMC neurons.

Conclusions

These data demonstrate that Rax+ progenitors generate POMC neurons in sufficient numbers during adulthood to mitigate the metabolic abnormalities of hypothalamic POMC-deficient mice. The findings suggest that adult hypothalamic neurogenesis is a robust phenomenon in mice that can significantly impact energy 

2020 impact factor: 7.4

The 60 Second Metabolist

In this section authors briefly report on their work recently published in Molecular Metabolism.

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