Glucosensing in parvocellular neurons of the rat hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus


Dr I. V. Melnick, as above.


Specialized hypothalamic neurons responding to rising extracellular glucose via increases or decreases in their electrical activity [glucose-excited (GE) and glucose-inhibited (GI) cells, respectively] have been reported in the hypothalamic arcuate, ventromedial and lateral nuclei. The hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is an important neurosecretory and preautonomic output nucleus. We tested whether parvocellular PVN neurons also possess glucosensing properties, using patch-clamp recording and immunocytochemistry. Putative neurosecretory (p-NS) and preautonomic (p-PA) cells were identified electrophysiologically. Although parvocellular neurons were insensitive to transitions from 10 to 2.5 mm glucose, approximately 68% of p-PA cells responded directly to glucopenia (mimicked by a step to 0.2 mm glucose) with an increased membrane conductance. Of these, approximately 24% hyperpolarized (accompanied by an outward current) and thus were GE, approximately 26% depolarized (with an inward current, thus GI) and approximately 18% did not change membrane potential. The concentration dependence of the glucose response was similar for both GE and GI cells (EC50 of 0.67–0.7 mm), but was steep, with Hill slopes of 3–4. The KATP channel blockers glibenclamide and tolbutamide did not prevent, while the KATP channel opener diazoxide did not mimic, the effects of low glucose on GE neurons. Moreover, the KATP sulfonylurea receptor SUR1 was not detected in glucosensitive neurons. We conclude that the PVN contains previously unknown GE and GI cells that could participate in regulation of autonomic functions. GE neurons in the PVN sense ambient glucose via a unique mechanism, probably independent of KATP channels, in contrast to neurons in other hypothalamic nuclei.