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Neurons that drive and quench thirst

Thirst is a vital primordial emotion that motivates fluid intake to compensate for incessant water loss incurred as a result of breathing, sweating, and urine production. Indeed, the maintenance of adequate hydration is a prerequisite for life and, accordingly, the desire to drink emerges as soon as the body's water content declines by 1 to 2%, and this feeling intensifies progressively with further depletion ( 1 – 3 ). Although regions in the brain that are critical for water intake have been known for more than 60 years, the identification and functional analysis of thirst-related neurons only became possible with the recent advent of genetically targeted photoactivation and photometry, methods that respectively allow manipulation and monitoring of electrical activity in vivo, using fiber-optic microprobes ( 4 – 7 ). On page 1149 of this issue, Allen et al. ( 8 ) reveal the existence of neurons that specifically encode the intensity and aversive quality of thirst within the median preoptic nucleus (MnPO) of the hypothalamus.

Authors:   Claire Gizowski; Charles W. Bourque
Journal:   Science
Volume:   357
edition:   6356
Year:   2017
Pages:   1092
DOI:   10.1126/science.aao5574
Publication date:   15-Sep-2017
Facts, background information, dossiers
  • water
  • neurons
  • production
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