Energy stores are held relatively constant in many mammals. The circuitry necessary for maintaining energy homeostasis should (1) sense the amount of energy stored in adipose tissue, (2) sense and integrate the multiple opposing signals regarding nutritional state, and (3) provide output regulating energy intake and expenditure to maintain energy homeostasis. We demonstrate that individual neurons within the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH) are capable of detection and integration of orexigenic (neuropeptide Y [NPY]) and anorexigenic (melanocortin) signals, that NPY and melanocortins are functional antagonists of each other within the PVH in the regulation of feeding behavior, and that melanocortin administration within the PVH regulates both feeding behavior and energy expenditure. These data provide a cellular basis for the adipostat within neurons in the PVH that appear to be jointly regulated by NPY- and melanocortin-responsive neurons.
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