Featured Paper of the Month – April 2022
The lateral hypothalamus (LH) has long been known for its involvement in feeding behaviors. Specifically, GABAergic LH (LHVGAT) neurons are known to mediate food intake (consummatory) and food-seeking (appetitive) behaviors, but GABAergic neurons comprise a large population of neurons that can further be divided into genetically identified subpopulations. Therefore, we sought to determine the function of a subset of LHVGAT neurons identified as leptin receptor-expressing neurons (LHLEPR neurons). We used a combination of neuronal ablation, optogenetics, chemogenetics, and in vivo calcium imaging to study the contributions of LHLEPR neurons to the greater LHVGAT population in mice. We found that while the broader LHVGAT population is involved in appetitive, consummatory and anxiety-like/displacement behaviors, LHLEPR neurons are responsible for driving appetitive behaviors. Our study highlights the need for continued dissection of neuronal subpopulations and their behavioral contributions to feeding behaviors.