Cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors on Sim1-expressing neurons regulate energy expenditure in male mice.

PMID 25456065


The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) regulates energy balance by modulating not only food intake, but also energy expenditure (EE) and brown adipose tissue thermogenesis. To test the hypothesis that cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor in PVN neurons might control these processes, we used the Cre/loxP system to delete CB1 from single-minded 1 (Sim1) neurons, which account for the majority of PVN neurons. On standard chow, mice lacking CB1 receptor in Sim1 neurons (Sim1-CB1-knockout [KO]) had food intake, body weight, adiposity, glucose metabolism, and EE comparable with wild-type (WT) (Sim1-CB1-WT) littermates. However, maintenance on a high-fat diet revealed a gene-by-diet interaction whereby Sim1-CB1-KO mice had decreased adiposity, improved insulin sensitivity, and increased EE, whereas feeding behavior was similar to Sim1-CB1-WT mice. Additionally, high-fat diet-fed Sim1-CB1-KO mice had increased mRNA expression of the β3-adrenergic receptor, as well as of uncoupling protein-1, cytochrome-c oxidase subunit IV and mitochondrial transcription factor A in the brown adipose tissue, all molecular changes suggestive of increased thermogenesis. Pharmacological studies using β-blockers suggested that modulation of β-adrenergic transmission play an important role in determining EE changes observed in Sim1-CB1-KO. Finally, chemical sympathectomy abolished the obesity-resistant phenotype of Sim1-CB1-KO mice. Altogether, these findings reveal a diet-dependent dissociation in the CB1 receptor control of food intake and EE, likely mediated by the PVN, where CB1 receptors on Sim1-positive neurons do not impact food intake but hinder EE during dietary environmental challenges that promote body weight gain.