Fu, O., Iwai, Y., Narukawa, M., Ishikawa, A.W., Ishii, K.K., Murata, K., Yoshimura, Y., Touhara, K., Misaka, T., Minokoshi, Y., and Nakajima, K.*


The gustatory system plays a critical role in sensing appetitive and aversive taste stimuli for evaluating food quality. Although taste preference is known to change depending on internal states such as hunger, a mechanistic insight remains unclear. Here, we examine the neuronal mechanisms regulating hunger-induced taste modification. Starved mice exhibit an increased preference for sweetness and tolerance for aversive taste. This hunger-induced taste modification is recapitulated by selective activation of orexigenic Agouti-related peptide (AgRP)-expressing neurons in the hypothalamus projecting to the lateral hypothalamus, but not to other regions. Glutamatergic, but not GABAergic, neurons in the lateral hypothalamus function as downstream neurons of AgRP neurons. Importantly, these neurons play a key role in modulating preferences for both appetitive and aversive tastes by using distinct pathways projecting to the lateral septum or the lateral habenula, respectively. Our results suggest that these hypothalamic circuits would be important for optimizing feeding behavior under fasting.

Paper Information

: Nature Communications