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Dissection des mécanismes hypothalamiques impliqués dans la détection du statut nutritionnel et régulation de la prise alimentaire via les interactions entre mTORC1, les mélanocortines et les endocannabinoïdes.

Le projet porté par Daniela Cota réunit deux équipes du Neurocentre Magendie:

  • Equipe : Physiopathologie de l'équilibre énergétique et obésité
  • Equipe: Endocannabinoïdes et neuroadaptation dirigée par Giovanni Marsicano

Title : Decoding hypothalamic nutrient sensing and food intake regulation via mTORC1, melanocortin and endocannabinoid interactions.


Obesity represents a major health problem worldwide. Nevertheless, knowledge about how feeding behavior and energy balance are finely regulated within the central nervous system (CNS) is still limited. Within the CNS, the hypothalamus is a major center of convergence and integration of nutrient and hormonal signals, using this information to adjust food intake and peripheral metabolism in response to the energy needs of the organism. While substantial information is available concerning how hypothalamic neurons and their circuits contribute to the regulation of energy homeostasis, relatively little is known as to how specific pathways and neurotransmitter systems interact to regulate the activity of these circuits and ultimately food intake. The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway is a key fuel sensing mechanism implicated in the regulation of food intake, whereas both endocannabinoid and melanocortin neurotransmitter signaling have critical roles in the hypothalamic control of energy balance. Each of these elements might represent target for therapy of nutrition-related diseases. Based on a solid series of unpublished data, here we hypothesize that the hypothalamic neuronal melanocortin network senses fuel-related signals by engaging mTORC1 and endocannabinoid-dependent mechanisms to regulate food intake. Thus, our project will aim at: 1) establishing the signal(s) driving POMC neurons activity and the role of the mTORC1 pathway in their decoding at neuronal level; 2) determining the role of the mTORC1 pathway in modulating POMC neurons activity and; 3) establishing how changes in mTORC1 and melanocortin signaling impact the endocannabinoid system and, ultimately, food intake. To reach our goals we will combine genetic (including the generation of novel transgenic mouse models), pharmacological, behavioral, biochemical, electrophysiological, optogenetic, neuroanatomical and molecular approaches. The interdisciplinary nature of our work will allow obtaining a detailed characterization of the molecular and neuronal mechanisms underlying the complex link among neuronal nutrient sensing, associated changes in molecular, cellular and electrophysiological functions, and actual behavior. We therefore expect that our studies will increase our understanding of the CNS mechanisms regulating food intake, possibly leading to the identification of new molecular targets for the treatment of pathological conditions characterized by an altered energy balance, including obesity and other eating-related disorders.