Estrogen-activated neurocircuit in females present anti-obesity advantages

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Looking for to raised perceive the important thing position the feminine hormone estrogen performs in sustaining power steadiness and weight management, a gaggle led by researchers at Baylor School of Drugs regarded into estrogen interactions with particular mind areas that present these anti-obesity advantages.

The crew reveals within the journal Science Advances an estrogen-activated neurocircuit that stimulates thermogenesis, or physique warmth manufacturing, and bodily exercise in animal fashions. The circuit begins in neurons positioned in a area of the hypothalamus known as the ventrolateral subdivision of the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (vlVMH). These neurons work together with estrogen by way of estrogen receptor-alpha (ER-alpha) and reply to the hormone by connecting to and speaking with serotonin-producing neurons positioned in one other mind area known as dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN).

The circuit not solely responds to estrogen, but additionally to adjustments in ambient temperature and within the dietary standing of the animal. Apparently, the circuit appears to be useful in males however, at this level, its physiological relevance is just not clear.

My lab has lengthy been thinking about understanding intercourse variations in metabolic management,”  “For example, earlier than menopause ladies are usually shielded from metabolic issues that will result in weight achieve, when in comparison with age-matched males. Nonetheless, after menopause, this profit appears to vanish. Researchers all over the world agree that estrogen is one vital participant on this profit.”


Dr. Yong Xu, Co-Corresponding Creator, Professor, Pediatrics – Vitamin and Molecular and Mobile Biology, Baylor

In earlier work, the researchers confirmed that one of many estrogen receptors, ER-alpha, is expressed in a number of mind areas, together with the v1VMH of the hypothalamus. When v1VMH neurons expressing ER-alpha reply to estrogen, the animals enhance thermogenesis and bodily exercise. Each responses are helpful as they enhance power expenditure, which may stop weight problems.

“What we did not know at the moment had been the neurocircuits that mediate these responses,” Xu stated. “Utilizing trendy neuroscience know-how, we recognized a neurocircuit that connects ER-alpha-expressing neurons within the vlVMH area with neurons within the DRN area. We confirmed that estrogen-mediated activation of this circuit truly stimulates thermogenesis and bodily exercise.”

The researchers additionally discovered that the circuit responds to adjustments in ambient temperature and within the dietary standing of the animal.

“For instance, the circuit could be activated when it is chilly, stimulating thermogenesis and bodily exercise, which might assist the animal keep heat,” Xu stated. “The circuit could be inhibited when the animal is hungry, which might shut down thermogenesis and bodily exercise, saving power to adapt to the shortage of vitamins.”

Xu and his colleagues studied this circuit in females, but additionally in males.

“We discovered that the circuit is conserved in males – they’ve the identical neurons that categorical ER-alpha and challenge into the identical downstream mind areas. If the circuit is artificially activated in males, the identical responses happen – thermogenesis and bodily exercise are stimulated. Nonetheless, we nonetheless do not know the position this circuit performs in males. Additional research will assist reply this query.”

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Journal reference:

Ye, H., et al. (2022) An estrogen-sensitive hypothalamus-midbrain neural circuit controls thermogenesis and bodily exercise. Science Advances. doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abk0185

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