Metabolic learning and memory formation by the brain influence systemic metabolic homeostasis

Yumin Zhang, Gang Liu, Jingqi Yan, Yalin Zhang, Bo Li, Dongsheng Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Metabolic homeostasis is regulated by the brain, but whether this regulation involves learning and memory of metabolic information remains unexplored. Here we use a calorie-based, taste-independent learning/memory paradigm to show that Drosophila form metabolic memories that help in balancing food choice with caloric intake; however, this metabolic learning or memory is lost under chronic high-calorie feeding. We show that loss of individual learning/memory-regulating genes causes a metabolic learning defect, leading to elevated trehalose and lipid levels. Importantly, this function of metabolic learning requires not only the mushroom body but also the hypothalamus-like pars intercerebralis, while NF-κB activation in the pars intercerebralis mimics chronic overnutrition in that it causes metabolic learning impairment and disorders. Finally, we evaluate this concept of metabolic learning/memory in mice, suggesting that the hypothalamus is involved in a form of nutritional learning and memory, which is critical for determining resistance or susceptibility to obesity. In conclusion, our data indicate that the brain, and potentially the hypothalamus, direct metabolic learning and the formation of memories, which contribute to the control of systemic metabolic homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6704
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Apr 13 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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