Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is an ancient and conserved neuromodulator of energy balance. Despite its importance, the neural circuits and molecular mechanisms underlying 5-HT-mediated control of body fat remain poorly understood. Here, we decipher the serotonergic neural circuit for body fat loss in C. elegans and show that the effects of 5-HT require signaling from octopamine, the invertebrate analog of adrenaline, to sustain body fat loss. Our results provide a potential molecular explanation for the long-observed potent effects of combined serotonergic and adrenergic weight loss drugs. In metabolic tissues, we find that the conserved regulatory adipocyte triglyceride lipase ATGL-1 drives serotonergic fat loss. We show that the serotonergic chloride channel MOD-1 relays a long-range endocrine signal from C. elegans body cavity neurons to control distal ATGL-1 function, via the nuclear receptor NHR-76. Our findings establish a conserved neuroendocrine axis operated by neural serotonergic and adrenergic-like signaling to regulate body fat.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.