Developmental changes in synaptic distribution in arcuate nucleus neurons

Arian F. Baquero, Melissa A. Kirigiti, Karalee C. Baquero, Shin J. Lee, M. Susan Smith, Kevin L. Grove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Neurons coexpressing neuropeptide Y, agouti-related peptide, and GABA (NAG) play an important role in ingestive behavior and are located in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. NAG neurons receive both GABAergic and glutamatergic synaptic inputs, however, the developmental time course of synaptic input organization of NAG neurons in mice is unknown. In this study, we show that these neurons have low numbers of GABAergic synapses and that GABA is inhibitory to NAG neurons during early postnatal period. In contrast, glutamatergic inputs onto NAG neurons are relatively abundant by P13 and are comparatively similar to the levels observed in the adult. As mice reach adulthood (9-10 weeks), GABAergic tone ontoNAGneurons increases. At this age,NAGneurons received similar numbers of inhibitory and EPSCs. To further differentiate age-associated changes in synaptic distribution, 17- to 18-week-old lean and diet-induced obesity (DIO) mice were studied. Surprisingly, NAG neurons from lean adult mice exhibit a reduction in the GABAergic synapses compared with younger adults. Conversely, DIO mice display reductions in the number of GABAergic and glutamatergic inputs onto NAG neurons. Based on these experiments, we propose that synaptic distribution in NAG neurons is continuously restructuring throughout development to accommodate the animals’ energy requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8558-8569
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 3 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Arcuate
  • Development
  • NAG neurons
  • Obesity
  • Synaptic inputs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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