Medullary Reticular Neurons Mediate Neuropeptide Y-Induced Metabolic Inhibition and Mastication

Yoshiko Nakamura, Yuchio Yanagawa, Shaun F. Morrison, Kazuhiro Nakamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (NPY) elicits hunger responses to increase the chances of surviving starvation: an inhibition of metabolism and an increase in feeding. Here we elucidate a key central circuit mechanism through which hypothalamic NPY signals drive these hunger responses. GABAergic neurons in the intermediate and parvicellular reticular nuclei (IRt/PCRt) of the medulla oblongata, which are activated by NPY-triggered neural signaling from the hypothalamus, potentially through the nucleus tractus solitarius, mediate the NPY-induced inhibition of metabolic thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT) via their innervation of BAT sympathetic premotor neurons. Intriguingly, the GABAergic IRt/PCRt neurons innervating the BAT sympathetic premotor region also innervate the masticatory motor region, and stimulation of the IRt/PCRt elicits mastication and increases feeding as well as inhibits BAT thermogenesis. These results indicate that GABAergic IRt/PCRt neurons mediate hypothalamus-derived hunger signaling by coordinating both autonomic and feeding motor systems to reduce energy expenditure and to promote feeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-334
Number of pages13
JournalCell Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 7 2017


  • brown adipose tissue
  • cardiovascular
  • feeding
  • hunger
  • medulla
  • metabolism
  • neural circuit
  • obesity
  • sympathetic
  • thermoregulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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