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Diabetes. 2001 Dec;50(12):2673-81.

Convergence of pre- and postsynaptic influences on glucosensing neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, New Jersey Medical School (UMDNJ), Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA.


Glucosensing neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMN) were studied using visually guided slice-patch recording techniques in brain slices from 14- to 21-day-old male Sprague-Dawley rats. Whole-cell current-clamp recordings were made as extracellular glucose levels were increased (from 2.5 to 5 or 10 mmol/l) or decreased (from 2.5 to 0.1 mmol/l). Using these physiological conditions to define glucosensing neurons, two subtypes of VMN glucosensing neurons were directly responsive to alterations in extracellular glucose levels. Another three subtypes were not directly glucose-sensing themselves, but rather were presynaptically modulated by changes in extracellular glucose. Of the VMN neurons, 14% were directly inhibited by decreases in extracellular glucose (glucose-excited [GE]), and 3% were directly excited by decreases in extracellular glucose (glucose-inhibited [GI]). An additional 14% were presynaptically excited by decreased glucose (PED neurons). The other two subtypes of glucosensing neurons were either presynaptically inhibited (PIR; 11%) or excited (PER; 8%) when extracellular glucose was raised to > 2.5 mmol/l. GE neurons sensed decreased glucose via an ATP-sensitive K(+) (K(ATP)) channel. The inhibitory effect of increased glucose on PIR neurons appears to be mediated by a presynaptic gamma-aminobutyric acid-ergic glucosensing neuron that probably originates outside the VMN. Finally, all types of glucosensing neurons were both fewer in number and showed abnormal responses to glucose in a rodent model of diet-induced obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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