Convergent neuronal projections from paraventricular nucleus, parabrachial nucleus, and brainstem onto gastrocnemius muscle, white and brown adipose tissue in male rats

Barbora Doslikova, Devan Tchir, Amanda McKinty, Xinxia Zhu, Daniel Marks, Vickie E. Baracos, William F. Colmers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


When energy balance is altered by aerobic exercise, starvation, and cold exposure, for example, there appears to be coordination of the responses of skeletal muscle, white adipose (WAT), and brown adipose (BAT) tissues. We hypothesized that WAT, BAT, and skeletal muscle may share an integrated regulation by the central nervous system (CNS); specifically, that neurons in brain regions associated with energy balance would possess neuroanatomical connections to permit coordination of multiple, complementary responses in these downstream tissues. To study this, we used trans-neuronal viral retrograde tract tracing, using isogenic strains of pseudorabies virus (PRV) with distinct fluorescent reporters (either eGFP or mRFP), injected pairwise into male rat gastrocnemius, subcutaneous WAT and interscapular BAT, coupled with neurochemical characterization of specific cell populations for cocaine- and amphetamine-related transcript (CART), oxytocin (OX), corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). Cells in the paraventricular (PVN) and parabrachial (PBN) nuclei and brainstem showed dual projections to muscle + WAT, muscle + BAT, and WAT + BAT. Dual PRV-labeled cells were found in parvocellular, magnocellular and descending/pre-autonomic regions of the PVN, and multiple structural divisions of the PBN and brainstem. In most PBN subdivisions, more than 50% of CGRP cells dually projected to muscle + WAT and muscle + BAT. Similarly, 31–68% of CGRP cells projected both to WAT + BAT. However, dual PRV-labeled cells in PVN only occasionally expressed OX or CRH but not CART. These studies reveal for the first time both separate and shared outflow circuitries among skeletal muscle and subcutaneous WAT and BAT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • brown adipose tissue
  • immunohistochemistry
  • paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus
  • pseudorabies virus
  • RRID AB_2157626
  • RRID AB_2313614
  • RRID AB_2535804
  • RRID AB_2535813
  • RRID AB_2572301
  • RRID AB_259091
  • skeletal muscle
  • white adipose tissue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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