Development & Plasticity of the Neuroendocrine Brain", INSERM U1172, Lille France
The fertility and survival of an individual rely on the ability of the organism to promptly, effectively and reproducibly communicate with brain neural networks that control reproduction, food intake and energy homeostasis. Tanycytes, a specialized glial cell type lining the floor of the third ventricle in the median eminence of the hypothalamus, appear to act as the linchpin of these processes by dynamically controlling the secretion of neuropeptides into the portal vasculature by hypothalamic neurons and regulating blood-brain and blood-cerebrospinal fluid exchanges, both processes that depend on the ability of these cells to adapt their morphology to the physiological state of the individual. In addition to their barrier properties, they possess the ability to sense blood glucose levels, and play a fundamental and active role in shuttling circulating metabolic signals to hypothalamic neurons that control food intake. In this talk, we will examine recent advances in the understanding of tanycytic plasticity and function in the hypothalamus, and the underlying molecular mechanisms. We will also discuss the putative involvement and therapeutic potential of hypothalamic tanycytes in the pathophysiology of metabolic and fertility disorders.