Brain fatty acid synthase activates PPARalpha to maintain energy homeostasis

J Clin Invest. 2007 Sep;117(9):2539-52. doi: 10.1172/JCI31183.


Central nervous system control of energy balance affects susceptibility to obesity and diabetes, but how fatty acids, malonyl-CoA, and other metabolites act at this site to alter metabolism is poorly understood. Pharmacological inhibition of fatty acid synthase (FAS), rate limiting for de novo lipogenesis, decreases appetite independently of leptin but also promotes weight loss through activities unrelated to FAS inhibition. Here we report that the conditional genetic inactivation of FAS in pancreatic beta cells and hypothalamus produced lean, hypophagic mice with increased physical activity and impaired hypothalamic PPARalpha signaling. Administration of a PPARalpha agonist into the hypothalamus increased PPARalpha target genes and normalized food intake. Inactivation of beta cell FAS enzyme activity had no effect on islet function in culture or in vivo. These results suggest a critical role for brain FAS in the regulation of not only feeding, but also physical activity, effects that appear to be mediated through the provision of ligands generated by FAS to PPARalpha. Thus, 2 diametrically opposed proteins, FAS (induced by feeding) and PPARalpha (induced by starvation), unexpectedly form an integrative sensory module in the central nervous system to orchestrate energy balance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior
  • Body Weight
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Fatty Acid Synthases / deficiency
  • Fatty Acid Synthases / genetics
  • Fatty Acid Synthases / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Homeostasis*
  • Hormones / blood
  • Hypothalamic Diseases / enzymology
  • Hypothalamic Diseases / pathology
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / enzymology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • PPAR alpha / agonists
  • PPAR alpha / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Hormones
  • PPAR alpha
  • Fatty Acid Synthases