Orexin/hypocretin neurons located in the lateral hypothalamus play a critical role in the maintenance of arousal and contribute to the regulation of multiple homeostatic and behavioral processes. In this issue of the JCI, Tan and Hang et al. report that feeding a high-fat diet to mice compromised the function of the orexin system, leading to impairments in reward-seeking and active coping mechanisms. The researchers observed changes at the cellular and circuit levels suggesting that reduced excitability of orexin neurons affects behavior through induction of a hypoarousal state.
Natalie J. Michael, Joel K. Elmquist