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Non-Neuronal Cells in the Hypothalamic Adaptation to Metabolic Signals

AuthorsFreire-Regatillo, Alejandra; Argente-Arizan, Pilar; Argente, Jesús; García-Segura, Luis M. ; Chowen, Julie A.
Issue Date21-Mar-2017
PublisherFrontiers Media
CitationFrontiers in Endocrinology 8: 51 (2017)
AbstractAlthough the brain is composed of numerous cell types, neurons have received the vast majority of attention in the attempt to understand how this organ functions. Neurons are indeed fundamental but, in order for them to function correctly, they rely on the surrounding “non-neuronal” cells. These different cell types, which include glia, epithelial cells, pericytes, and endothelia, supply essential substances to neurons, in addition to protecting them from dangerous substances and situations. Moreover, it is now clear that non-neuronal cells can also actively participate in determining neuronal signaling outcomes. Due to the increasing problem of obesity in industrialized countries, investigation of the central control of energy balance has greatly increased in attempts to identify new therapeutic targets. This has led to interesting advances in our understanding of how appetite and systemic metabolism are modulated by non-neuronal cells. For example, not only are nutrients and hormones transported into the brain by non-neuronal cells, but these cells can also metabolize these metabolic factors, thus modifying the signals reaching the neurons. The hypothalamus is the main integrating center of incoming metabolic and hormonal signals and interprets this information in order to control appetite and systemic metabolism. Hence, the factors transported and released from surrounding non-neuronal cells will undoubtedly influence metabolic homeostasis. This review focuses on what is known to date regarding the involvement of different cell types in the transport and metabolism of nutrients and hormones in the hypothalamus. The possible involvement of non-neuronal cells, in particular glial cells, in physiopathological outcomes of poor dietary habits and excess weight gain are also discussed.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2017.00051
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