Physiological arousal: a role for hypothalamic systems
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- Adamantidis, A. & de Lecea, L. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2008) 65: 1475. doi:10.1007/s00018-008-7521-8
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The lateral hypothalamus (LH) has long been known as a homeostasis center of the brain that modulates feeding behavior, arousal and reward. The hypocretins (Hcrts, also called orexins) and melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) are neuropeptides produced in two intermingled populations of a few thousand neurons in the LH. The Hcrts have a prominent role in regulating the stability of arousal, since Hcrt system deficiency leads to narcolepsy. MCH is an important modulator of energy balance, as MCH system deficiency in mice leads to leanness and increased metabolism. Recently, MCH has been proposed to modulate rapid eye movement sleep in rodents. In this review, we propose a working model of the cross-talk between Hcrt and MCH circuits that may provide an arousal balance system to regulate complex goal-oriented behaviors.