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Role of astrocytes, microglia, and tanycytes in brain control of systemic metabolism


Astrocytes, microglia, and tanycytes play active roles in the regulation of hypothalamic feeding circuits. These non-neuronal cells are crucial in determining the functional interactions of specific neuronal subpopulations involved in the control of metabolism. Recent advances in biology, optics, genetics, and pharmacology have resulted in the emergence of novel and highly sophisticated approaches for studying hypothalamic neuronal–glial networks. Here we summarize the progress in the field and argue that glial–neuronal interactions provide a core hub integrating food-related cues, interoceptive signals, and internal states to adapt a complex set of physiological responses operating on different timescales to finely tune behavior and metabolism according to metabolic status. This expanding knowledge helps to redefine our understanding of the physiology of food intake and energy metabolism.

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Fig. 1: The cellular functional heterogeneity of hypothalamic AgRP or NPY and POMC neurons in metabolic sensing and systemic metabolism.
Fig. 2: The cellular functional heterogeneity of hypothalamic non-neuronal cells in metabolic sensing and systemic metabolism.


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This work was supported by European Research Council ERC AdG (HypoFlam no. 695054) to M.H.T. and ERC STG (AstroNeuroCrosstalk no. 757393) to C.G.-C.; ANR/DFG Nutripathos Project ANR-15-CE14-0030-01/02 to M.H.T. and S.L.; the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 1052) Obesity Mechanisms to M.K. and I.B.; and the Agence National pour la Recherche (ANR) grant number ANR-15-CE14-0025 to V.P. and ANR-15-CE14-0030-01 and ANR-16-CE14-0026-02 to S.L.

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Correspondence to Matthias H. Tschöp.

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García-Cáceres, C., Balland, E., Prevot, V. et al. Role of astrocytes, microglia, and tanycytes in brain control of systemic metabolism. Nat Neurosci 22, 7–14 (2019).

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