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Torpor is a naturally occurring, hypometabolic, hypothermic state engaged by a wide range of animals in response to imbalance between the supply and demand for nutrients. Recent work has identified some of the key neuronal populations involved in daily torpor induction in mice, in particular, projections from the preoptic area of the hypothalamus to the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH). The DMH plays a role in thermoregulation, control of energy expenditure, and circadian rhythms, making it well positioned to contribute to the expression of torpor. We used activity-dependent genetic TRAPing techniques to target DMH neurons that were active during natural torpor bouts in female mice. Chemogenetic reactivation of torpor-TRAPed DMH neurons in calorie-restricted mice promoted torpor, resulting in longer and deeper torpor bouts. Chemogenetic inhibition of torpor-TRAPed DMH neurons did not block torpor entry, suggesting a modulatory role for the DMH in the control of torpor. This work adds to the evidence that the preoptic area of the hypothalamus and the DMH form part of a circuit within the mouse hypothalamus that controls entry into daily torpor.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Daily heterotherms, such as mice, use torpor to cope with environments in which the supply of metabolic fuel is not sufficient for the maintenance of normothermia. Daily torpor involves reductions in body temperature, as well as active suppression of heart rate and metabolism. How the CNS controls this profound deviation from normal homeostasis is not known, but a projection from the preoptic area to the dorsomedial hypothalamus has recently been implicated. We demonstrate that the dorsomedial hypothalamus contains neurons that are active during torpor. Activity in these neurons promotes torpor entry and maintenance, but their activation alone does not appear to be sufficient for torpor entry. Copyright © 2022 Ambler et al.


Michael Ambler, Timna Hitrec, Andrew Wilson, Matteo Cerri, Anthony Pickering. Neurons in the Dorsomedial Hypothalamus Promote, Prolong, and Deepen Torpor in the Mouse. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2022 May 25;42(21):4267-4277

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PMID: 35440490

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