Activation of the ARCPOMC→MeA Projection Reduces Food Intake

Eunjin Kwon, Young Hwan Jo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC) plays an essential role in the control of food intake and energy expenditure. Melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4Rs) are expressed in key areas that are implicated in regulating energy homeostasis. Although the importance of MC4Rs in the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH) has been well documented, the role of MC4Rs in the medial amygdala (MeA) on feeding remains controversial. In this study, we specifically examine the role of a novel ARCPOMC→MeA neural circuit in the regulation of short-term food intake. To map a local melanocortinergic neural circuit, we use monosynaptic anterograde as well as retrograde viral tracers and perform double immunohistochemistry to determine the identity of the neurons receiving synaptic input from POMC neurons in the ARC. To investigate the role of the ARCPOMC→MeA projection on feeding, we optogenetically stimulate channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2)-expressing POMC fibers in the MeA. Anterograde viral tracing studies reveal that ARC POMC neurons send axonal projections to estrogen receptor-α (ER-α)- and MC4R-expressing neurons in the MeA. Retrograde viral tracing experiments show that the neurons projecting to the MeA is located mainly in the lateral part of the ARC. Optogenetic stimulation of the ARCPOMC→MeA pathway reduces short-term food intake. This anorectic effect is blocked by treatment with the MC4R antagonist SHU9119. In addition to the melanocortinergic local circuits within the hypothalamus, this extrahypothalamic ARCPOMC→MeA neural circuit would play a role in regulating short-term food intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number595783
JournalFrontiers in Neural Circuits
StatePublished - Nov 5 2020


  • POMC (proopiomelanocortin)
  • amygdala
  • anorexia
  • estrogen
  • melanocortin
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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