Orexin excites GABAergic neurons of the arcuate nucleus by activating the sodium--calcium exchanger.
Burdakov D., Liss B., Ashcroft FM.
The neuropeptides orexins/hypocretins are essential for normal wakefulness and energy balance, and disruption of their function causes narcolepsy and obesity. Although much is known of the role of orexins in sleep/wake behavior, it remains unclear how they stimulate feeding and metabolism. One of the main targets of orexinergic neurons is the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of the hypothalamus, which plays a key role in feeding and energy homeostasis. By combining patch-clamp and RT-multiplex PCR analysis of individual neurons in mouse brain slices, we show that an electrophysiologically distinct subset of ARC neurons coexpress orexin receptors and glutamate decarboxylase-67 and are excited by orexin. Acting on postsynaptic orexin type 2 receptors, orexin activates a sodium-calcium exchange current, thereby depolarizing the cell and increasing its firing frequency. Because GABA is a potent stimulus for feeding, in both the ARC and its main projection site, these results suggest a mechanism for how orexin may control appetite.