Presentation Details
A Psychological Stressor Conveyed by Appetite-Linked Neurons

Eun Jeong Lee1, Naresh K.Hanchate1, Kunio Kondoh1, 2, Ai Phuong S.Tong1, 3, Donghui Kuang1, Andrew Spray1, Xiaolan Ye1, Linda B.Buck1.

1Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA.2National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Okazaki, Japan.3University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA


Mammals exhibit instinctive reactions to danger that include specific behaviors as well as surges in blood stress hormones that rally multiple tissues to cope with threat. Hypothalamic corticotropin releasing hormone neurons (CRHNs) control stress hormone levels, but how diverse stressors converge on CRHNs to induce stress responses is not well understood. Here, we used single cell transcriptomics to define CRHN receptors for neurotransmitters and neuromodulators and then viral tracing to localize subsets of upstream neurons expressing cognate receptor ligands. Surprisingly, one subset comprised POMC (pro-opiomelanocortin)-expressing neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus, which are linked to appetite suppression. The POMC neurons were activated by one psychological stressor, physical restraint, but not another, a predator odor. Chemogenetic activation of POMC neurons induced a stress hormone increase and their silencing inhibited the stress hormone response to physical restraint, but not predator odor. Together, these results indicate that hypothalamic POMC neurons, which are implicated in appetite suppression, also play a major role in the stress hormone response to a specific type of psychological stressor.

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