Cocaine and Amphetamine-regulated Transcript (CART) is one of the most abundant neuropeptides in vagal afferents, including those involved in regulating feeding. Recent observations indicate that metabolic challenges dramatically alter the neuropeptidergic profile of CART-producing vagal afferents. Here, using confocal microscopy, we re-assessed the distribution and regulation of CART (55-102) immunoreactivity in vagal afferents of the male mouse in response to metabolic challenges, including fasting, high-fat diet feeding. Importantly, the perikarya and axons of vagal C-fibers were labeled using mice expressing channelrodhopsin-2 (ChR2-YFP) in Nav1.8-Cre-expressing neurons. In these mice, approximately 82% of the nodose ganglion neurons were labeled with ChR2-YFP. Furthermore, ChR2-YFP-labeled axons could easily be identified in the dorsovagal complex. CART (55-102) immunoreactivity was observed in 55% of the ChR2-YFP-labeled neurons in the nodose ganglion and 22% of the ChR2-YFP-labeled varicosities within the area postrema of fed, fasted and obese mice. The distribution of positive profiles was also identical across the full range of CART staining in fed, fasted and obese mice. In contrast to previous studies, fasting did not induce melanin-concentrating hormone immunoreactivity in vagal afferents. Moreover, prepro-MCH mRNA was undetectable in the nodose ganglion of fasted mice. In summary, this study showed that the perikarya and central terminals of vagal afferents are invariably enriched in CART and devoid of MCH.
Significance Statement Recent studies reported that fasting triggers vagal afferents to switch from expressing anorectic to orexigenic neuropeptides. This study failed to replicate the aforementioned observations using a combination of confocal microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. In particular, we showed that neither fasting nor diet-induced obesity influence the immunoreactivity for Cocaine and Amphetamine-regulated Transcript neuropeptide in the mouse vagal afferents. In contrast to previous studies, we also failed to detect melanin-concentrating hormone expression in the mouse vagal afferents. Overall, we reached the conclusion that the neuropeptidergic profile of the vagal afferents involved in feeding is remarkably stable in response to metabolic challenges.
The authors declare no competing financial interests
This work was supported by the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society Research Grant (2013-2014). The research reported in this publication was also supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award #UL1TR001105.