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Selected neurons of the hypothalamus are equipped with molecules specialized in sensing the energy status of the organism. Upon activation or inhibition by central and systemic factors, such as neurotransmitters, hormones, cytokines, and nutrients, these molecules play important roles in the regulation of neuronal responses that control whole-body energy homeostasis. Dietary fats can control hypothalamic function by acting upon distinct energy sensing systems. They can be metabolized inside neurons, producing signals that control the expression of neurotransmitters involved in energy homeostasis; moreover, excessive amounts of certain fatty acids can activate inflammatory signaling in microglia, astrocytes, and neurons, leading to functional abnormalities and, eventually, neuronal apoptosis. In addition, recent studies have identified lipid-sensing G-protein-coupled receptors in the hypothalamus, revealing their involvement in the regulation of caloric intake and energy expenditure, as well as in the hypothalamic inflammatory response that occurs in obesity. Because of advances in the generation of synthetic ligands for this class of receptors, it is expected that pharmacological modulation of selected lipid-sensing G-protein-coupled receptors in the central nervous system could provide therapeutic advances in obesity and other metabolic diseases. Here we review seminal work in this field. Copyright © 2019 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Nathalia R Dragano, Milena Monfort-Pires, Licio A Velloso. Mechanisms Mediating the Actions of Fatty Acids in the Hypothalamus. Neuroscience. 2020 Nov 01;447:15-27

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PMID: 31689488

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