The dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus and its role in ingestive behavior and body weight regulation: lessons learned from lesioning studies. Academic Article uri icon


  • This review article discusses the well-established role of the dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus (DMN) in feeding, drinking and body weight (BW) regulation. DMN lesions (L) in both weanling and mature rats of both sexes produce hypophagia, hypodipsia and reduced ponderal and linear growth in the presence of normal body composition. The growth reduction is not due to a deficient secretion of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1, thyroxine, triiodothyronine or insulin. DMNL rats actively defend their lower BW (BW settling point) by becoming either hyper- or hypophagic, depending on the experimental manipulation, thereby defending both lean and fat mass. They also regulate their 24-h caloric intake, but they may overeat during the first hour of refeeding following a fast, possibly due to a reduced ability to monitor blood glucose or to respond to cholecystokinin (CCK). 2-Deoxy-D-glucose (2DG) increases c-fos expression in orexin-A neurons in the DMN, and DMNL eliminated the orexigenic effect of 2DG. DMNL rats on high-fat diets do not get as obese as controls, which may be due to a reduction of DMN neuropeptide Y (NPY). Rats lacking DMN CCK-A receptors are obese and have increased expression of NPY in the DMN, supporting earlier data that CCK may act at the DMN to suppress food intake. Excitotoxin studies showed that loss of DMN cell somata, and not fibers of passage, is important in the development of the DMNL syndrome. The DMN is a site where opioids increase food intake and knife-cut studies have shown that fibers traveling to/from the DMN are important in this response. An interaction of glucose and opioids in DMN may also be involved in the control of food intake. DMN knife cuts interrupting fibers in the posterior and ventral directions additively produce the hypophagia and reduced linear and ponderal growth observed after DMNL. Ventral cuts may interrupt important connections with the arcuate nucleus. Lateral and posterior DMN cuts additively produce the hypodipsic effect seen after DMNL, but DMNL rats respond normally to all water-regulatory challenges, i.e., the hypophagia is not due to a primary hypodipsia. The DMN has been shown to be involved in the rat's feeding response to an imbalanced amino acid diet. These data show the DMN has an important role in many processes that control both food intake and BW regulation.

published proceedings

  • Physiol Behav

author list (cited authors)

  • Bellinger, L. L., & Bernardis, L. L.

citation count

  • 181

complete list of authors

  • Bellinger, Larry L||Bernardis, Lee L

publication date

  • January 2002