Glucose sensing neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamus

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88 Scopus citations


Neurons whose activity is regulated by glucose are found in a number of brain regions. Glucose-excited (GE) neurons increase while glucose-inhibited (GI) neurons decrease their action potential frequency as interstitial brain glucose levels increase. We hypothesize that these neurons evolved to sense and respond to severe energy deficit (e.g., fasting) that threatens the brains glucose supply. During modern times, they are also important for the restoration of blood glucose levels following insulin-induced hypoglycemia. Our data suggest that impaired glucose sensing by hypothalamic glucose sensing neurons may contribute to the syndrome known as hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure in which the mechanisms which restore euglycemia following hypoglycemia become impaired. On the other hand, increased responses of glucose sensing neurons to glucose deficit may play a role in the development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and obesity. This review will discuss the mechanisms by which glucose sensing neurons sense changes in interstitial glucose and explore the roles of these specialized glucose sensors in glucose and energy homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9002-9025
Number of pages24
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Diabetes
  • Fasting
  • Glucose-excited neurons
  • Glucose-inhibited neurons
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Obesity


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