Insulin actions on hypothalamic glucose-sensing neurones

Stephanie M. Garcia, Pamela R. Hirschberg, Pallabi Sarkar, Dashiel M. Siegel, Suraj B. Teegala, Gwyndolin M. Vail, Vanessa H. Routh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Subsequent to the discovery of insulin 100 years ago, great strides have been made in understanding its function, especially in the brain. It is now clear that insulin is a critical regulator of the neuronal circuitry controlling energy balance and glucose homeostasis. This review focuses on the effects of insulin and diabetes on the activity and glucose sensitivity of hypothalamic glucose-sensing neurones. We highlight the role of electrophysiological data in understanding how insulin regulates glucose-sensing neurones. A brief introduction describing the benefits and limitations of the major electrophysiological techniques used to investigate glucose-sensing neurones is provided. The mechanisms by which hypothalamic neurones sense glucose are discussed with an emphasis on those glucose-sensing neurones already shown to be modulated by insulin. Next, the literature pertaining to how insulin alters the activity and glucose sensitivity of these hypothalamic glucose-sensing neurones is described. In addition, the effects of impaired insulin signalling during diabetes and the ramifications of insulin-induced hypoglycaemia on hypothalamic glucose-sensing neurones are covered. To the extent that it is known, we present hypotheses concerning the mechanisms underlying the effects of these insulin-related pathologies. To conclude, electrophysiological data from the hippocampus are evaluated aiming to provide clues regarding how insulin might influence neuronal plasticity in glucose-sensing neurones. Although much has been accomplished subsequent to the discovery of insulin, the work described in our review suggests that the regulation of central glucose sensing by this hormone is both important and understudied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12937
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • diabetes
  • electrophysiology
  • hyperglycaemia
  • hypoglycaemia
  • oxidative stress


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