Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Recent studies have implicated a role for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator protein-1α (PGC-1α) in PD and in animal or cellular models of PD. The role of PGC-1α in the function and survival of substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) dopamine neurons is not clear. Here we find that there are four different PGC-1α isoforms expressed in SH-SY5Y cells, and these four isoforms are expressed across subregions of mouse brain. Adult conditional PGC-1α knock-out mice show a significant loss of dopaminergic neurons that is accompanied by a reduction of dopamine in the striatum. In human PD postmortem tissue from the SNpc, there is a reduction of PGC-1α isoforms and mitochondria markers. Our findings suggest that all four isoforms of PGC-1α are required for the proper expression of mitochondrial proteins in SNpc DA neurons and that PGC-1α is essential for SNpc DA neuronal survival, possibly through the maintenance of mitochondrial function.
Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons are critical sensors of nutrient availability implicated in energy balance and glucose metabolism control. However, the precise mechanisms underlying nutrient sensing in POMC neurons remain incompletely understood. We show that mitochondrial dynamics mediated by Mitofusin 1 (MFN1) in POMC neurons couple nutrient sensing with systemic glucose metabolism. Mice lacking MFN1 in POMC neurons exhibited defective mitochondrial architecture remodeling and attenuated hypothalamic gene expression programs during the fast-to-fed transition. This loss of mitochondrial flexibility in POMC neurons bidirectionally altered glucose sensing, causing abnormal glucose homeostasis due to defective insulin secretion by pancreatic β cells. Fed mice lacking MFN1 in POMC neurons displayed enhanced hypothalamic mitochondrial oxygen flux and reactive oxygen species generation. Central delivery of antioxidants was able to normalize the phenotype. Collectively, our data posit MFN1-mediated mitochondrial dynamics in POMC neurons as an intrinsic nutrient-sensing mechanism and unveil an unrecognized link between this subset of neurons and insulin release.
The mammalian olfactory bulb (OB) displays robust activity-dependent plasticity throughout life. Dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the glomerular layer (GL) of the OB are particularly plastic, with loss of sensory input rapidly reducing tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression and dopamine production, followed by a substantial reduction in DA neuron number. Here, we asked whether microglia participate in activity-dependent elimination of DA neurons in the mouse OB. Interestingly, we found a significant reduction in the number of both DA neurons and their synapses in the OB ipsilateral to the occluded naris (occluded OB) within just 7 days of sensory deprivation. Concomitantly, the volume of the occluded OB decreased, resulting in an increase in microglial density. Microglia in the occluded OB also adopted morphologies consistent with activation. Using in vivo 2-photon imaging and histological analysis we then showed that loss of olfactory input markedly altered microglial-neuronal interactions during the time that DA neurons are being eliminated: both microglial process motility and the frequency of wrapping of DA neuron somata by activated microglia increased significantly in the occluded OB. Furthermore, we found microglia in the occluded OB that had completely engulfed components of DA neurons. Together, our data provide evidence that loss of olfactory input modulates microglial-DA neuron interactions in the OB, thereby suggesting an important role for microglia in the activity-dependent elimination of DA neurons and their synapses.