Lateral habenula regulation of emotional hyperthermia: mediation via the medullary raphé
Blessing, William Walter
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The lateral habenula (LHb) has an important role in the behavioural response to salient, usually aversive, events. We previously demonstrated that activation of neurons in the LHb increases brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis and constricts the cutaneous vascular bed, indicating that the LHb contributes to the central control of sympathetic outflow to thermoregulatory effector organs. We have now investigated whether the LHb mediates BAT thermogenesis elicited by emotional stress, and whether the LHb modulates thermoregulatory sympathetic outflow via the rostral medullary raphé, a key integrative lower brainstem sympathetic control centre. In conscious animals, lesioning the LHb attenuated emotional BAT thermogenesis, suggesting that the LHb is part of the central circuitry mediating emotional hyperthermia. In anesthetized animals, inhibition of neurons in the rostral medullary raphé reversed BAT thermogenesis and cutaneous vasoconstriction elicited by activation of neurons in the LHb, indicating that the LHb-induced autonomic responses are mediated through activation of the rostral medullary raphé neurons. The latency to activate BAT sympathetic discharge from electrical stimulation of the LHb was substantially greater than the corresponding latency after stimulation of the medullary raphé, suggesting that the neuronal pathway connecting those two nuclei is quite indirect.