Leptin acts in the brain to prevent obesity. The underlying neurocircuitry responsible for this is poorly understood, in part because of incomplete knowledge regarding first-order, leptin-responsive neurons. To address this, we and others have been removing leptin receptors from candidate first-order neurons. While functionally relevant neurons have been identified, the observed effects have been small, suggesting that most first-order neurons remain unidentified. Here we take an alternative approach and test whether first-order neurons are inhibitory (GABAergic, VGAT⁺) or excitatory (glutamatergic, VGLUT2⁺). Remarkably, the vast majority of leptin's antiobesity effects are mediated by GABAergic neurons; glutamatergic neurons play only a minor role. Leptin, working directly on presynaptic GABAergic neurons, many of which appear not to express AgRP, reduces inhibitory tone to postsynaptic POMC neurons. As POMC neurons prevent obesity, their disinhibition by leptin action on presynaptic GABAergic neurons probably mediates, at least in part, leptin's antiobesity effects.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.