Appetite enhancement and weight gain by peripheral administration of TrkB agonists in non-human primates

PLoS One. 2008 Apr 2;3(4):e1900. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001900.


Loss of function mutations in the receptor tyrosine kinase TrkB pathway resulted in hyperphagia and morbid obesity in human and rodents. Conversely, peripheral or central stimulation of TrkB by its natural ligands BDNF or NT4 reduced body weight and food intake in mice, supporting the idea that TrkB is a key anorexigenic signal downstream of the melanocortin-4 receptor (Mc4r) system. Here we show that in non-human primates TrkB agonists were anorexigenic when applied centrally, but surprisingly orexigenic, leading to gain in appetite, body weight, fat deposits and serum leptin levels, when given peripherally. The orexigenic and pro-obesity effects of peripherally administered TrkB agonists appear to be dose dependent, not associated with fluid retention nor with evidence of receptor down regulation. Our findings revealed that TrkB signaling exerts dual control on energy homeostasis in the primates that could be targeted for the treatment of either wasting disorders or obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite*
  • Body Weight
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Gene Deletion
  • Leptin / blood
  • Ligands
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mutation*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / metabolism
  • Receptor, trkB / agonists*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Weight Gain*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Leptin
  • Ligands
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Receptor, trkB