Glycemic State Regulates Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Responsiveness of Neurons in the Paraventricular Nucleus of the Hypothalamus
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Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a member of the family of neurotrophins and binds to the tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) receptor. Like other neurotrophic factors, BDNF is involved in the development and differentiation of neurons. Recently, studies have suggested important roles for BDNF in the regulation of energy homeostasis. The paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is critical for normal energy balance contains high levels of both BDNF and TrkB mRNA. Studies have shown that microinjections of BDNF into the PVN increase energy expenditure, suggesting BDNF plays a role in energy homeostasis through direct actions in this hypothalamic nucleus. We used male Sprague-Dawley rats to perform whole-cell current-clamp experiments from PVN neurons in slice preparation. BDNF was bath applied at a concentration of 2nM and caused depolarizations in 54% of neurons (n = 25; mean change in membrane potential: 8.9 ± 1.2 mV), hyperpolarizations in 23% (n = 11; mean change in membrane potential: -6.7 ± 1.4 mV), while the remaining cells tested were unaffected. Previous studies showing effects of BDNF on γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) mediated neurotransmission in PVN led us to examine if these BDNF-mediated changes in membrane potential were maintained in the presence of tetrodotoxin (TTX) sodium channel blocker (N = 9; 56% depolarized, 22% hyperpolarized, 22% non-responders) and bicuculline (GABAA antagonist) (N = 12; 42% depolarized, 17% hyperpolarized, 41% non-responders), supporting the conclusion that these effects on membrane potential were postsynaptic. We also evaluated the effects of BDNF on these neurons across varying physiologically relevant extracellular glucose concentrations. At 10 mM 23% (n = 11; mean: -6.7 ± 1.4 mV) of PVN neurons hyperpolarized in response to BDNF treatment, whereas at 0.2 mM glucose, 71% showed hyperpolarizing effects (n = 12; mean: -6.3 ± 2.8 mV). Our findings reveal that BDNF has direct impacts on PVN neurons and that these neurons are capable of integrating multiple sources of metabolically relevant input. Our analysis regarding glucose concentrations and their effects on these neurons’ response to other metabolic signals emphasizes the importance of using physiologically relevant conditions for study of central pathways involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis.