, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 127-140
Date: 24 Feb 2011

Hypothalamic AMP-activated protein kinase as a mediator of whole body energy balance

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The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is the downstream constituent of a kinase cascade that acts as a sensor of cellular energy levels. Current data unequivocally indicate that hypothalamic AMPK plays a key role in the control of the whole body energy balance, by integrating peripheral signals, such as hormones and metabolites, with central signals, such as neuropeptides, and eliciting allostatic changes in energy homeostasis. Although the molecular details of these interactions are not fully understood, recent evidence has suggested that the interaction between AMPK with hypothalamic lipid metabolism and other metabolic sensors, such as the uncoupling protein 2 (UCP-2), the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and the deacetylase sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), may play a main role in the hypothalamic control of feeding and energy expenditure. Here, we summarize the role of hypothalamic AMPK as whole body energy gauge. Understanding this key molecule and especially its functions at central level may provide new therapeutic targets for the treatment of metabolic alterations and obesity.

Pablo Blanco Martínez de Morentin and Carmen R. González have equally contributed to this work.