In the brain, the ventral hypothalamus (VHT) regulates energy and bone metabolism. Whether this regulation uses the same or different neuronal circuits is unknown. Alteration of AP1 signaling in the VHT increases energy expenditure, glucose utilization, and bone density, yet the specific neurons responsible for each or all of these phenotypes are not identified. Using neuron-specific, genetically targeted AP1 alterations as a tool in adult mice, we found that agouti-related peptide–expressing (AgRP-expressing) or proopiomelanocortin-expressing (POMC-expressing) neurons, predominantly present in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) within the VHT, stimulate whole-body energy expenditure, glucose utilization, and bone formation and density, although their effects on bone resorption differed. In contrast, AP1 alterations in steroidogenic factor 1–expressing (SF1-expressing) neurons, present in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH), increase energy but decrease bone density, suggesting that these effects are independent. Altered AP1 signaling also increased the level of the neuromediator galanin in the hypothalamus. Global galanin deletion (VHT galanin silencing using shRNA) or pharmacological galanin receptor blockade counteracted the observed effects on energy and bone. Thus, AP1 antagonism reveals that AgRP- and POMC-expressing neurons can stimulate body metabolism and increase bone density, with galanin acting as a central downstream effector. The results obtained with SF1-expressing neurons, however, indicate that bone homeostasis is not always dictated by the global energy status, and vice versa.
Anna Idelevich, Kazusa Sato, Kenichi Nagano, Glenn Rowe, Francesca Gori, Roland Baron