Attenuated cold defense responses in orexin neuron-ablated rats

Mazher Mohammed, Masashi Yanagisawa, William Blessing, Youichirou Ootsuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Recent reports of the use of transgenic mice targeting orexin neurons show that the ablation of orexin neurons in the hypothalamus causes hypothermia during cold exposure. This suggests the importance of orexin neurons for cold-induced autonomic and physiological defense responses, including brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis and vasoconstriction in thermoregulatory cutaneous vascular bed. The present study investigated whether the ablation of orexin neurons attenuated cold-elicited BAT thermogenesis and cutaneous vasoconstriction. The study took advantage of our established conscious rat experimental model of direct measurement of BAT and body temperature and tail cutaneous blood flow. The study used transgenic orexin neurons-ablated (ORX-AB) rats and wild type (WT) rats. BAT temperature and tail artery blood flow with pre-implanted probes were measured, as well as behavioral locomotor activity under conscious free-moving condition. Gradually, the ambient temperature was decreased to below 5°C. ORX-AB rats showed an attenuated cold-induced BAT thermogenesis and behavioral activity, and delayed tail vasoconstriction. An ambient temperature that initiated BAT thermogenesis and established full cutaneous vasoconstriction was 14.1 ± 1.9 °C, which was significantly lower than 20.5 ± 1.9 °C, the corresponding value in WT rats (n = 10, P < 0.01). The results from this study suggest that the integrity of orexin-synthesising neurons in thermoregulatory networks is important for full expression of the cold defense responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-475
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016


  • brown adipose tissue
  • cold defense
  • cutaneous vasoconstriction
  • orexin


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