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Introduction: Owing to their privileged anatomical location, neurons of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC) play critical roles in sensing and responding to metabolic signals such as leptin and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). In addition to the well-known proopiomelanocortin (POMC)- and agouti-related peptide (AgRP)-expressing neurons, subpopulations of GABAergic neurons are emerging as key regulators of energy balance. However, the precise identity of these metabolic neurons is still elusive. Here, we identified and characterized the molecular signature of a novel population of GABAergic neurons of the ARC expressing Cellular retinoic acid binding protein 1 (Crabp1). Methods: Using a combination of immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization techniques, we investigated the expression of Crabp1 across the mouse brain and characterized the molecular identity of Crabp1ARC neurons. We also determined whether Crabp1ARC neurons are sensitive to fasting, leptin and GLP1R agonism by assessing cFOS immunoreactivity as a marker of neuronal activity. Results: Crabp1ARC neurons represent a novel GABAergic neuronal population robustly enriched in the ARC and distinct from the prototypical melanocortin neurons. Crabp1ARC neurons overlap with three subpopulations of yet uncharacterized ARC neurons expressing Htr3b, Tbx19 and Tmem215, respectively. Notably, Crabp1ARC neurons express receptors for metabolic hormones and their activity is modulated by the nutritional state and GLP1R agonism. Conclusion: Crabp1ARC neurons represent a novel heterogenous population of GABAergic neurons sensitive to metabolic status.

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