• Hypothalamic Wnt signalling and its role in energy balance regulation

      Helfer, Gisela; Tups, A. (2016-03)
      Wnt signalling and its downstream effectors are well known for their roles in embryogenesis and tumourigenesis, including the regulation of cell proliferation, survival and differentiation. In the nervous system, Wnt signalling has been described mainly during embryonic development, although accumulating evidence suggests that it also plays a major role in adult brain morphogenesis and function. Studies have predominantly concentrated on memory formation in the hippocampus, although recent data indicate that Wnt signalling is also critical for neuroendocrine control of the developed hypothalamus, a brain centre that is key in energy balance regulation and whose dysfunction is implicated in metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. Based on scattered findings that report the presence of Wnt molecules in the tanycytes and ependymal cells lining the third ventricle and arcuate nucleus neurones of the hypothalamus, their potential importance in key regions of food intake and body weight regulation has been investigated in recent studies. The present review brings together current knowledge on Wnt signalling in the hypothalamus of adult animals and discusses the evidence suggesting a key role for members of the Wnt signalling family in glucose and energy balance regulation in the hypothalamus in diet-induced and genetically obese (leptin deficient) mice. Aspects of Wnt signalling in seasonal (photoperiod sensitive) rodents are also highlighted, given the recent evidence indicating that the Wnt pathway in the hypothalamus is not only regulated by diet and leptin, but also by photoperiod in seasonal animals, which is connected to natural adaptive changes in food intake and body weight. Thus, Wnt signalling appears to be critical as a modulator for normal functioning of the physiological state in the healthy adult brain, and is also crucial for normal glucose and energy homeostasis where its dysregulation can lead to a range of metabolic disorders.
    • Photoperiodic and diurnal regulation of WNT signalling in the arcuate nucleus of the 1 female Djungarian hamster, Phodopus sungorus

      Boucsein, A.; Benzler, J.; Hempp, C.; Stöhr, S.; Helfer, Gisela; Tups, A. (2016-02)
      The WNT pathway was shown to play an important role in the adult central nervous system. We previously identified the WNT pathway as a novel integration site of the adipokine leptin in mediating its neuroendocrine control of metabolism in obese mice. Here we investigated the implication of WNT signaling in seasonal body weight regulation exhibited by the Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus), a seasonal mammal that exhibits profound annual changes in leptin sensitivity. We furthermore investigated whether crucial components of the WNT pathway are regulated in a diurnal manner. Gene expression of key components of the WNT pathway in the hypothalamus of hamsters acclimated to either long day (LD) or short day (SD) photoperiod was analyzed by in situ hybridization. We detected elevated expression of the genes WNT-4, Axin-2, Cyclin-D1, and SFRP-2, in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus, a key energy balance integration site, during LD compared with SD as well as a diurnal regulation of Axin-2, Cyclin-D1, and DKK-3. Investigating the effect of photoperiod as well as leptin on the activation (phosphorylation) of the WNT coreceptor LRP-6-(Ser1490) by immunohistochemistry, we found elevated activity in the arcuate nucleus during LD relative to SD as well as after leptin treatment (2 mg/kg body weight). These findings indicate that differential WNT signaling may be associated with seasonal body weight regulation and is partially regulated in a diurnal manner in the adult brain. Furthermore, they suggest that this pathway plays a key role in the neuroendocrine regulation of body weight and integration of the leptin signal.