The arcuate nucleus (or infundibular nucleus]) is an aggregation of neurons in the mediobasal hypothalamus, adjacent to the third ventricle and the median eminence. The arcuate nucleus includes several important populations of neurons, including: neuroendocrine neurons, centrally projecting neurons, and others.
Energy homeostasis, food intake, and body weight are regulated by specific brain circuits.
Optogenetics stimulation of mouse ARC TH neurons increased food intake; attenuating transmitter release reduced body weight. Optogenetic stimulation of ARC TH cells inhibited pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons through synaptic mechanisms. ARC TH cells project to the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus; optogenetic stimulation of ARC TH axons inhibited paraventricular nucleus neurons by dopamine and GABA co-release. Dopamine excited orexigenic neurons that synthesize agouti-related peptide and neuropeptide Y but inhibited anorexigenic neurons that synthesize POMC, as determined by whole cell recording. Food deprivation increased c-fos expression and spike frequency in ARC TH neurons. The gut peptide ghrelin evoked direct excitatory effects, suggesting these neurons monitor metabolic cues.