Anterograde transneuronal viral tract tracing reveals central sensory circuits from white adipose tissue

C. Kay Song, Gary J. Schwartz, Timothy J. Bartness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


The origins of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) innervation of white adipose tissue (WAT) have been defined using the transneuronal viral retrograde tract tracer, pseudorabies virus. Activation of this SNS innervation is acknowledged as the principal initiator of WAT lipolysis. The central control of WAT lipolysis may require neural feedback to a brain-SNS-WAT circuit via WAT afferents. Indeed, conventional tract tracing studies have demonstrated that peripheral pseudounipolar dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory cells innervate WAT. The central nervous system projections of WAT afferents remain uncharted, however, and form the focus of the present study. We used the H129 strain of the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), an anterograde transneuronal viral tract tracer, to define the afferent circuits projecting from WAT to the central nervous system. Siberian hamster inguinal (IWAT) or epididymal WAT was injected with H129 and the neuraxis processed for HSV-1 immunoreactivity. We found substantial overlap in the pattern of WAT sensory afferent projections with multiple SNS outflow sites along the neuraxis, suggesting the possibility of WAT sensory-SNS circuits that could regulate WAT SNS drive and thereby lipolysis. Previously, we demonstrated that systemic 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG) elicited increases in the SNS drive to IWAT. Here, we show that systemic 2DG administration also significantly increases multiunit spike activity arising from decentralized IWAT afferents. Collectively, these data provide structural and functional support for the existence of a sensory WAT pathway to the brain, important in the negative feedback control of lipid mobilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R501-R511
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • 2-deoxy-D-glucose
  • Electrophysiology
  • Lipolysis
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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