The consensus view of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH) is that it is a key node in the rodent brain network controlling sympathoadrenal counterregulatory responses to hypoglycemia. To identify the location of hypoglycemia-responsive neurons in the VMH, we performed a high spatial resolution Fos analysis in the VMH of rats made hypoglycemic with intraperitoneal injections of insulin. We examined Fos expression in the four constituent parts of VMH throughout its rostrocaudal extent and determined their relationship to blood glucose concentrations. Hypoglycemia significantly decreased Fos expression only in the dorsomedial and central parts of the VMH, but not its anterior or ventrolateral parts. Moreover, the number of Fos-expressing neurons was significantly and positively correlated in the two responsive regions with terminal blood glucose concentrations. We also measured Fos responses in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH) and in several levels of the periaqueductal gray (PAG), which receives strong projections from the VMH. We found the expected and highly significant increase in Fos in the neuroendocrine PVH, which was negatively correlated to terminal blood glucose concentrations, but no significant differences were seen in any part of the PAG. Our results show that there are distinct populations of VMH neurons whose Fos expression is suppressed by hypoglycemia, and their numbers correlate with blood glucose. These findings support a clear division of glycemic control functions within the different parts of the VMH.
- glucosensing neurons
- motivated behaviors
- periaqueductal gray
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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