The dorsomedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (DMH) plays an important role in the regulation of energy intake and expenditure. Numerous appetite-regulatory signals present in the DMH, including nitric oxide (NO) and endogenous cannabinoids (eCBs), act to regulate food intake, but whether these signals are involved in regulating high fat food intake remains unknown. We therefore asked whether NO and eCBs, administered alone or in combination, would influence the consumption of high fat food in rats. We implanted bilateral guide cannulas in the DMH of young, male Sprague-Dawley rats for microinjection of vehicle, NO (via the precursor l-arginine), the eCB 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG), or a combination of the two signals. Following the intrahypothalamic injections, both high fat food intake and body weight were measured for two hours at which point brains were removed and sectioned to confirm cannula placement in the DMH. Here we show that l-arginine significantly increases high fat food intake when administered into the DMH. This effect is abolished in the presence of 2-AG, which alone has no effect on high fat food intake or body weight. The l-arginine-induced increase in high fat food intake is dependent on NO synthesis, as it is prevented with the NO synthase inhibitor, l-NAME. We also demonstrate that l-arginine increases glutamate transmission onto DMH neurons, an effect that also requires NO synthesis and is abolished with 2-AG. Together, these data indicate that NO acts in the DMH to regulate the consumption of high fat food, possibly by enhancing glutamate signaling at DMH synapses.
Keywords: dorsomedial hypothalamus endocannabinoids food intake glutamate synapses high fat diet nitric oxide