In order to maintain an ideal body weight, an organism must balance energy intake with energy expenditure. It is well known
that metabolic signals derived in the periphery act in well-defined hypothalamic and brainstem neuronal circuits to control energy homeostasis.
As such, peripheral signals that convey information regarding nutritional and metabolic status of the individual must be able to
access and control these neuronal circuits in order to direct both food intake and energy expenditure. Within the hypothalamus, the arcuate
nucleus of the hypothalamus has become recognized as a critical center in this integrated circuitry. Although there is considerable
anatomical evidence indicating that the arcuate is protected by the blood brain barrier, neurons in this region have been repeatedly suggested
to directly sense many circulating signals which do not readily diffuse across this barrier.
In this review we will describe the hypothalamic circuitry involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis and will discuss data indicating
that the arcuate nucleus is, in fact, protected by the blood brain barrier. We will then consider alternative mechanisms through which
one specific circulating adipokine, leptin, can gain access to and influence central nervous sites involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis
without the requirement for direct access from the peripheral circulation to arcuate neurons.
Keywords: Food intake, circumventricular organs, obesity, hypothalamus, arcuate, leptin, subfornical organ, area postrema.
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Published on: 12 March, 2014
Page: [1392 - 1399]