Insulin-Dependent Activation of MCH Neurons Impairs Locomotor Activity and Insulin Sensitivity in Obesity
Summary Melanin-concentrating-hormone (MCH)-expressing neurons (MCH neurons) in the lateral hypothalamus (LH) are critical regulators of energy and glucose homeostasis. Here, we demonstrate that insulin increases the excitability of these neurons in control mice. In vivo, insulin promotes phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling in MCH neurons, and cell-type-specific deletion of the insulin receptor (IR) abrogates this response. While lean mice lacking the IR in MCH neurons (IR ΔMCH ) exhibit no detectable metabolic phenotype under normal diet feeding, they present with improved locomotor activity and insulin sensitivity under high-fat-diet-fed, obese conditions. Similarly, obesity promotes PI3 kinase signaling in these neurons, and this response is abrogated in IR ΔMCH mice. In turn, acute chemogenetic activation of MCH neurons impairs locomotor activity but not insulin sensitivity. Collectively, our experiments reveal an insulin-dependent activation of MCH neurons in obesity, which contributes via distinct mechanisms to the manifestation of impaired locomotor activity and insulin resistance.