Vasopressin: Predicting changes in osmolality
The balance between water and solutes in our blood, known as osmolality, must be tightly controlled for our bodies to work properly. Both eating and drinking have profound effects on osmolality in our body. For example, after several bites of food the brain rapidly triggers a feeling of thirst to increase our uptake of water (Leib et al., 2017; Matsuda et al., 2017). In addition, when fluid balance is disturbed, the brain releases a hormone called vasopressin that travels to the kidneys to reduce the excretion of water (Geelen et al., 1984; Thrasher et al., 1981). While much is known about how the brain controls drinking behavior, it is less clear how it regulates the hormonal response.
Vasopressin is primarily secreted by Arginine-vasopressin (AVP) neurons in the supraoptic and paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. These neurons not only respond to actual disturbances in water balance, but also anticipate future osmotic changes that occur after eating and drinking. In 2017, a group of researchers discovered that AVP neurons respond to food and water by rapidly decreasing or increasing their activity, respectively, before there are any detectable changes in osmolality (Mandelblat-Cerf et al., 2017). Now, in eLife, researchers from Harvard Medical School – including Angela Kim as first author and corresponding author Bradford Lowell – report the neural pathways underlying this drinking- and feeding-induced regulation of vasopressin (Kim et al., 2021).
AVP neurons receive signals from the lamina terminalis, a brain structure that detects changes in osmolality and modulates thirst and water retention (McKinley, 2003). Using virus tracing techniques, the team (which includes some of the researchers involved in the 2017 study) mapped neurons in the lamina terminalis that are directly connected to AVP neurons in mice. This revealed that excitatory and inhibitory neurons in two regions of the lamina terminalis (called MnPO and OVLT) send direct inputs to AVP neurons.
Kim et al. then examined whether these neurons in the lamina terminalis responded to drinking and water-predicting cues (such as seeing a bowl of water being placed down; Figure 1). Excitatory neurons that drive thirst and stimulate vasopressin release were rapidly suppressed by both drinking and water-predictive cues before there were any detectable changes in blood osmolality. Conversely, inhibitory neurons showed the opposite response, and were activated following bowl placement and water consumption. This suggests that excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the lamina terminalis help anticipate future osmotic changes by reducing the activity of AVP neurons in response to drinking and water-predictive cues.
Further experiments showed that food intake – but not food-predicting cues – stimulates AVP neurons to release vasopressin prior to an increase in blood osmolality. However, Kim et al. found that neurons in the lamina terminalis are unlikely to be involved in this process, as they did not respond to food consumption as quickly as AVP neurons. Instead, they discovered that these feeding-induced signals came from an undefined neuronal population in the arcuate nucleus, the hunger center in the brain that houses the neurons that promote and inhibit feeding (Figure 1; Atasoy et al., 2012). Unlike other neurons involved in hunger, these cells did not appear to respond to food-predicting cues. Molecular data on the different cell types in the arcuate nucleus could be used to identify this new population, potentially revealing a new hunger-related neural mechanism (Campbell et al., 2017).
Taken together, the findings of Kim et al. reveal that eating and drinking alter the activity of AVP neurons via two distinct neural circuits (Figure 1). There are, however, a few limitations to this study. For instance, the regulation of lamina terminalis neurons and vasopressin is inseparable. Indeed, manipulation of the lamina terminalis neurons inevitably changes thirst drive, water intake and the activity of AVP neurons. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the source of predictive signals in AVP neurons.
Another question has to do with the physiological significance of the anticipatory regulation of lamina terminalis neurons and AVP neurons. If water-predicting cues suppress excitatory neurons in the lamina terminalis, how does the brain maintain the desire to drink? This issue is particularly important for the thirst system since thirst-driving neurons can have acute effects on drinking behavior (Augustine et al., 2020). It is possible that the lamina terminalis regulates thirst and vasopressin secretion through different populations of neurons. Future work could investigate if the neurons directly connected to AVP neurons are different to the ones that drive thirst. Identifying the individual components of the behavioral and hormonal response may provide new insights into how the brain regulates the uptake and excretion of fluids.
A molecular census of arcuate hypothalamus and median eminence cell typesNature Neuroscience 20:484–496.https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.4495
Inhibition of plasma vasopressin after drinking in dehydrated humansThe American Journal of Physiology 247:R968–R971.https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.1984.247.6.R968
The sensory circumventricular organs of the mammalian brainAdvances in Anatomy, Embryology, and Cell Biology 172:1–122.https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-55532-9
Satiety and inhibition of vasopressin secretion after drinking in dehydrated dogsThe American Journal of Physiology 240:E394–E401.https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.1981.240.4.E394
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- Version of Record published: November 18, 2021 (version 1)
© 2021, Yang et al.
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Background: Evidence supports an important link between mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation and adverse drug reactions such as idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injury (iDILI). Here, we describe the generation of HepG2-derived transmitochondrial cybrids, to investigate the impact of mtDNA variation on mitochondrial (dys)function and susceptibility to iDILI. This study created 10 cybrid cell lines, each containing distinct mitochondrial genotypes of haplogroup H or haplogroup J backgrounds.
Methods: HepG2 cells were depleted of mtDNA to make rho zero cells, before the introduction of known mitochondrial genotypes using platelets from healthy volunteers (n=10), thus generating 10 transmitochondrial cybrid cell lines. The mitochondrial function of each was assessed at basal state and following treatment with compounds associated with iDILI; flutamide, 2-hydroxyflutamide, and tolcapone, and their less toxic counterparts bicalutamide and entacapone utilising ATP assays and extracellular flux analysis.
Findings: Whilst only slight variations in basal mitochondrial function were observed between haplogroups H and J, haplogroup-specific responses were observed to the mitotoxic drugs. Haplogroup J showed increased susceptibility to inhibition by flutamide, 2-hydroxyflutamide and tolcapone, via effects on selected mitochondrial complexes (I and II), and an uncoupling of the respiratory chain.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that HepG2 transmitochondrial cybrids can be created to contain the mitochondrial genotype of any individual of interest. This provides a practical and reproducible system to investigate the cellular consequences of variation in the mitochondrial genome, against a constant nuclear background. Additionally, the results show that inter-individual variation in mitochondrial haplogroup may be a factor in determining sensitivity to mitochondrial toxicants.
Funding: This work was supported by the Centre for Drug Safety Science supported by the Medical Research Council, United Kingdom (Grant Number G0700654); and GlaxoSmithKline as part of an MRC-CASE studentship (grant number MR/L006758/1).
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