Microglia–Neuron Crosstalk in Obesity: Melodious Interaction or Kiss of Death?

Stéphane Léon, Agnès Nadjar, Carmelo Quarta
IJMS. 2021-05-15; 22(10): 5243
DOI: 10.3390/ijms22105243

Diet-induced obesity can originate from the dysregulated activity of hypothalamic neuronal circuits, which are critical for the regulation of body weight and food intake. The exact mechanisms underlying such neuronal defects are not yet fully understood, but a maladaptive cross-talk between neurons and surrounding microglial is likely to be a contributing factor. Functional and anatomical connections between microglia and hypothalamic neuronal cells are at the core of how the brain orchestrates changes in the body’s metabolic needs. However, such a melodious interaction may become maladaptive in response to prolonged diet-induced metabolic stress, thereby causing overfeeding, body weight gain, and systemic metabolic perturbations. From this perspective, we critically discuss emerging molecular and cellular underpinnings of microglia–neuron communication in the hypothalamic neuronal circuits implicated in energy balance regulation. We explore whether changes in this intercellular dialogue induced by metabolic stress may serve as a protective neuronal mechanism or contribute to disease establishment and progression. Our analysis provides a framework for future mechanistic studies that will facilitate progress into both the etiology and treatments of metabolic disorders.

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