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The hypothalamus, energy balance and neurodegeneration
There is growing interest in understanding the specific brain regions underlying the association between metabolic changes and a range of neurodegenerative diseases.1–3 Atrophy of the hypothalamus, a region critical to the regulation of energy balance, has been observed in Huntington’s disease4 and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).5 6 In their JNNP paper, - Gorges and colleagues7 found that people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), part of the spectrum of neurodegenerative disease that includes FTD, also had substantially decreased hypothalamic volumes measured by 3 T MRI.
Why is this finding important? The hypothalamus contains neurons that regulate eating behaviour and autonomic function and has functional projections to the striatum, thalamus, brainstem, orbitofrontal cortex and other brain …