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Brain Res. 1999 Oct 30;846(1):23-9.

Electrical stimulation of the ventromedial hypothalamus enhances both fat utilization and metabolic rate that precede and parallel the inhibition of feeding behavior.

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Institut Européen des Sciences du Goût et des Comportements Alimentaires (IESGCA), CNRS UPR 9054, Neurobiologie des Régulations, Collège de France, 11 Pl. M. Berthelot, F-75231, Paris, France.


The effects of ventromedial hypothalamic (VMH) stimulation on various metabolic parameters in freely moving animals were measured using a specific indirect calorimetric chamber associated with a quantitative measurement of locomotor activity, which allows the separate measurement of locomotor energy expenditure from that of background metabolism, BM (free from expenses due to locomotion). To obtain circumscribed VMH stimulation, a slight-intensity (20-25 microA) bipolar, constant current was applied for 15 min at the beginning of the dark phase on ad libitum fed rats. The VMH stimulation suppressed feeding for 40 min, then animals progressively recovered within the subsequent 60 min as shown by comparison with the control group. On different days, the same stimulation parameters were applied while food was unavailable, and metabolic parameters were recorded. An increase in BM lasting 30 min was observed. This increase in metabolic rate was sustained by means of a recruitment of lipid stores as indicated by a concomitant drop in respiratory quotient. These observations indicate that the VMH is part of the sympathetic nervous system, capable of inducing lipolysis. The sequence of metabolic and feeding events may then in part be due to VMH-induced lipolysis that provides more fuel to the metabolic economy, raising the BM, which in turn decreases hunger.

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