Astrocytic Process Plasticity and IKKβ/NF-κB in Central Control of Blood Glucose, Blood Pressure, and Body Weight

Yalin Zhang, Judith M. Reichel, Cheng Han, Juan Pablo Zuniga-Hertz, Dongsheng Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Central regulation of metabolic physiology is mediated critically through neuronal functions; however, whether astrocytes are also essential remains unclear. Here we show that the high-order processes of astrocytes in the mediobasal hypothalamus displayed shortening in fasting and elongation in fed status. Chronic overnutrition and astrocytic IKKβ/NF-κB upregulation similarly impaired astrocytic plasticity, leading to sustained shortening of high-order processes. In physiology, astrocytic IKKβ/NF-κB upregulation resulted in early-onset effects, including glucose intolerance and blood pressure rise, and late-onset effects, including body weight and fat gain. Appropriate inhibition in astrocytic IKKβ/NF-κB protected against chronic overnutrition impairing astrocytic plasticity and these physiological functions. Mechanistically, astrocytic regulation of hypothalamic extracellular GABA level and therefore BDNF expression were found partly accountable. Hence, astrocytic process plasticity and IKKβ/NF-κB play significant roles in central control of blood glucose, blood pressure, and body weight as well as the central induction of these physiological disorders leading to disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1091-1102.e4
JournalCell metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2 2017


  • IKKβ
  • NF-κB
  • astrocyte
  • blood glucose
  • blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • hypothalamus
  • inflammation
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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