Regulation of energy homeostasis in animals involves adaptation of energy intake to its loss, through a perfect regulation of feeding behavior and energy storage/expenditure. Factors from the periphery modulate brain activity in order to adjust food intake as needed. Particularly, "first order" neurons from arcuate nucleus are able to detect modifications in homeostatic parameters and to transmit information to "second order" neurons, partly located in the lateral hypothalamic area. These "second order" neurons have widespread projections throughout the brain and their proper activation leads them to a coordinated response associated to an adapted behavior. Among these neurons, melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) expressing neurons play an integrative role of the various factors arising from periphery, first order neurons and extra-hypothalamic arousal systems neurons and modulate regulation of feeding, drinking and seeking behaviors. As regulation of MCH release is correlated to regulation of MCH neuronal activity, we focused this review on the electrophysiological properties of MCH neurons from the lateral hypothalamic area. We first reviewed the knowledge on the endogenous electrical properties of MCH neurons identified according to various criteria which are described. Then, we dealt with the modulations of the electrical activity of MCH neurons by different factors such as glucose, glutamate and GABA, peptides and hormones regulating feeding and transmitters of extra-hypothalamic arousal systems. Finally, we described the current knowledge on the modulation of MCH neuronal activity by cytokines and chemokines. Because of such regulation, MCH neurons are some of the best candidate to account for infection-induced anorexia, but also obesity.
- Brain slices
- Feeding behavior
- Melanin-concentrating hormone