Lack of brain serotonin affects feeding and differentiation of newborn cells in the adult hypothalamus


  • M. van Lingen
  • M. Sidorova
  • N. Alenina
  • F. Klempin


  • Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology


  • Front Cell Dev Biol 7: 65


  • Serotonin (5-HT) is a crucial signal in the neurogenic niche microenvironment. Dysregulation of the 5-HT system leads to mood disorders but also to changes in appetite and metabolic rate. Tryptophan hydroxylase 2-deficient (Tph2(-/-)) mice depleted of brain 5-HT display alterations in these parameters, e.g., increased food consumption, modest impairment of sleep and respiration accompanied by a less anxious phenotype. The newly discovered neural stem cell niche of the adult hypothalamus has potential implications of mediating stress responses and homeostatic functions. Using Tph2(-/-) mice, we explore stem cell behavior and cell genesis in the adult hypothalamus. Specifically, we examine precursor cell proliferation and survival in Tph2(-/-) mice at baseline and following Western-type diet (WD). Our results show a decline in BrdU numbers with aging in the absence of 5-HT. Furthermore, wild type mice under dietary challenge decrease cell proliferation and survival in the hypothalamic niche. In contrast, increased high-calorie food intake by Tph2(-/-) mice does not come along with alterations in cell numbers. However, lack of brain 5-HT results in a shift of cell phenotypes that was abolished under WD. We conclude that precursor cells in the hypothalamus retain fate plasticity and respond to environmental challenges. A novel link between 5-HT signaling and cell genesis in the hypothalamus could be exploited as therapeutic target in metabolic disease.