Targeting the T-type calcium channel Cav3.2 in GABAergic arcuate nucleus neurons to treat obesity

Document Type


Publication Date



OBJECTIVE: Cav3.2, a T-type low voltage-activated calcium channel widely expressed throughout the central nervous system, plays a vital role in neuronal excitability and various physiological functions. However, the effects of Cav3.2 on energy homeostasis remain unclear. Here, we examined the role of Cav3.2 expressed by hypothalamic GABAergic neurons in the regulation of food intake and body weight in mice and explored the underlying mechanisms. METHODS: Male congenital Cana1h (the gene coding for Cav3.2) global knockout (Cav3.2KO) mice and their wild type (WT) littermates were first used for metabolic phenotyping studies. By using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique, Cav3.2 was selectively deleted from GABAergic neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARH) by specifically overexpressing Cas9 protein and Cav3.2-targeting sgRNAs in ARH Vgat (Vgat) neurons. These male mutants (Cav3.2KO-Vgat) were used to determine whether Cav3.2 expressed by Vgat neurons is required for the proper regulation of energy balance. Subsequently, we used an electrophysiological patch-clamp recording in ex vivo brain slices to explore the impact of Cav3.2KO on the cellular excitability of Vgat neurons. RESULTS: Male Cav3.2KO mice had significantly lower food intake than their WT littermate controls when fed with either a normal chow diet (NCD) or a high-fat diet (HFD). This hypophagia phenotype was associated with increased energy expenditure and decreased fat mass, lean mass, and total body weight. Selective deletion of Cav3.2 in Vgat neurons resulted in similar feeding inhibition and lean phenotype without changing energy expenditure. These data provides an intrinsic mechanism to support the previous finding on ARH non-AgRP GABA neurons in regulating diet-induced obesity. Lastly, we found that naringenin extract, a predominant flavanone found in various fruits and herbs and known to act on Cav3.2, decreased the firing activity of Vgat neurons and reduced food intake and body weight. These naringenin-induced inhibitions were fully blocked in Cav3.2KO-Vgat mice. CONCLUSION: Our results identified Cav3.2 expressed by Vgat neurons as an essential intrinsic modulator for food intake and energy homeostasis, which is a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of obesity.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Molecular metabolism

First Page


This document is currently not available here.