RESEARCH PUBLISHED: Ventromedial Hypothalamic Nucleus Neuronal Subset Regulates Blood Glucose Independently of Insulin

March 05, 2020


To identify neurons that specifically increase blood glucose from among the diversely-functioning cell types in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMN), we studied the cholecystokinin (CCK) receptor-B (CCKBR)-expressing VMN targets of glucose-elevating parabrachial nucleus neurons. Activating these VMNCCKBR neurons increased blood glucose.

Furthermore, while silencing the broader VMN decreased energy expenditure and promoted weight gain without altering blood glucose, silencing VMNCCKBR neurons decreased hepatic glucose production (HGP), insulin-independently decreasing blood glucose without altering energy balance.

Silencing VMNCCKBR neurons also impaired the counter-regulatory response (CRR) to insulin-induced hypoglycemia and glucoprivation and replicated hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure (HAAF).

Hence, VMNCCKBR cells represent a specialized subset of VMN cells that function to elevate glucose. These cells not only mediate the allostatic response to hypoglycemia, but also insulin-independently modulate the homeostatic setpoint for blood glucose, consistent with a role for the brain in the insulin-independent control of glucose homeostasis.

To read the complete research article, go to The Journal of Clinical Investigation.