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Neuroscience. 2013 Aug 29;246:291-300. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.05.004. Epub 2013 May 13.

The NPY intergeniculate leaflet projections to the suprachiasmatic nucleus transmit metabolic conditions.

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Laboratory of Hypothalamic Integration Mechanism, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 70228, Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 Mexico DF, Mexico.


The intergeniculate leaflet (IGL) is classically known as the area of the Thalamic Lateral Geniculate Complex providing the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) non-photic information. In the present study we investigated whether this information might be related to the metabolic state of the animal. The following groups of male Wistar rats were used for analysis of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and c-Fos in the IGL and SCN. (1) Fed ad libitum. (2) Fasted for 48 h. (3) Fasted for 48 h followed by refeeding for 3 h. (4) Monosodium glutamate-lesioned and 48 h fasted. (5) Electrolytic lesion in the IGL and 48 h fasted. The results were quantified by optical densitometry. Neuronal tracers were injected in two brain areas that receive metabolic information from the periphery, the arcuate nucleus (ARC) and Nucleus of the Tractus Solitarius to investigate whether there is an anatomical relationship with the IGL. Lesion studies showed the IGL, and not the ARC, as origin of most NPY projections to the SCN. Fasting induced important changes in the NPY expression in the IGL, coinciding with similar changes of NPY/glutamate decarboxylase projections of the IGL to the SCN. These changes revealed that the IGL is involved in the transmission of metabolic information to the SCN. In fasted animals IGL lesion resulted in a significant increase of c-Fos in the SCN as compared to intact fasted animals demonstrating the inhibitory influence of the IGL to the SCN in fasting conditions. When the animal after fasting was refed, an increase of c-Fos in the SCN indicated a removal of this inhibitory input. Together these observations show that in addition to increased inhibitory IGL input during fasting, the negative metabolic condition also results in increased excitatory input to the SCN via other pathways. Consequently the present observations show that at least part of the non-photic input to the SCN, arising from the IGL contains information about metabolic conditions.

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