Thirst Neurons Anticipate Consequences of Eating and Drinking


Thirst as a motivator for animals to maintain healthy hydration has long been viewed as a homeostatic response to blood volume and other physiological factors; however, this response is so fast that it is anticipatory, and the mechanisms of which are poorly understood.

NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Zachary Knight and his team at the University of California, San Francisco, published their latest results exploring this phenomenon in mice. The scientists found an unexpected role for the subfornical (SFO) organ in the anticipatory regulation of thirst in mice, showing that thirst-promoting SFO neurons respond to inputs from the mouth during eating and drinking and then integrate these inputs with information about the composition of the blood.

These results provide a neural mechanism to explain longstanding observations about thirst in animals, including the prevalence of drinking during meals and the rapid satiation of thirst.


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