Monosodium glutamate-induced arcuate nucleus damage affects both natural torpor and 2DG-induced torpor-like hypothermia in Siberian hamsters

Kimberly M. Pelz, David Routman, Joseph R. Driscoll, Lance J. Kriegsfeld, John Dark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) have the ability to express daily torpor and decrease their body temperature to ∼15°C, providing a significant savings in energy expenditure. Daily torpor in hamsters is cued by winterlike photoperiods and occurs coincident with the annual nadirs in body fat reserves and chronic leptin concentrations. To better understand the neural mechanisms underlying torpor, Siberian hamster pups were postnatally treated with saline or MSG to ablate arcuate nucleus neurons that likely possess leptin receptors. Body temperature was studied telemetrically in cold-acclimated (10°C) male and female hamsters moved to a winterlike photoperiod (10:14-h light-dark cycle) (experiments 1 and 2) or that remained in a summerlike photoperiod (14:10-h light-dark cycle) (experiment 3). In experiment 1, even though other photoperiodic responses persisted, MSG-induced arcuate nucleus ablations prevented the photoperiod-dependent torpor observed in saline-treated Siberian hamsters. MSG-treated hamsters tended to possess greater fat reserves. To determine whether reductions in body fat would increase frequency of photoperiod-induced torpor after MSG treatment, hamsters underwent 2 wk of food restriction (70% of ad libitum) in experiment 2. Although food restriction did increase the frequency of torpor in both MSG- and saline-treated hamsters, it failed to normalize the proportion of MSG-treated hamsters undergoing photoperiod-dependent torpor. In experiment 3, postnatal MSG treatments reduced the proportion of hamsters entering 2DG-induced torpor-like hypothermia by ∼50% compared with saline-treated hamsters (38 vs. 72%). In those MSG-treated hamsters that did become hypothermic, their minimum temperature during hypothermia was significantly greater than comparable saline-treated hamsters. We conclude that 1) arcuate nucleus mechanisms mediate photoperiod-induced torpor, 2) food-restriction-induced torpor may also be reduced by MSG treatments, and 3) arcuate nucleus neurons make an important, albeit partial, contribution to 2DG-induced torpor-like hypothermia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R255-R265
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Body mass
  • Fat
  • Leptin
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Thermoregulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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