Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) potently decreases food intake and body weight in diet-induced obese mice by acting through neuronal circuits and pathways located in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of the hypothalamus. CNTF also exerts pro-inflammatory actions within the brain. Here we tested whether CNTF modifies energy balance by inducing inflammatory responses in the ARC and whether these effects depend upon the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway, which regulates both energy metabolism and inflammation. To this purpose, chow- and high fat diet (HFD)- fed mice lacking the S6 kinase 1 (S6K1-/-), a downstream target of mTORC1, and their wild-type (WT) littermates received 12 days continuous intracerebroventricular (icv) infusion of the CNTF analogue axokine (CNTFAx15). Behavioral, metabolic and molecular effects were evaluated. Central chronic administration of CNTFAx15 decreased body weight and feed efficiency in WT mice only, when fed HFD, but not chow. These metabolic effects correlated with increased number of iba-1 positive microglia specifically in the ARC and were accompanied by significant increases of IL-1β and TNF-α mRNA expression in the hypothalamus. Hypothalamic iNOS and SOCS3 mRNA, molecular markers of pro-inflammatory response, were also increased by CNTFAx15. All these changes were absent in S6K1-/- mice. This study reveals that CNTFAx15 requires a functional S6K1 to modulate energy balance and hypothalamic inflammation in a diet-dependent fashion. Further investigations should determine whether S6K1 is a suitable target for the treatment of pathologies characterized by a high neuroinflammatory state.
Keywords: CNTF; Glia cells; Hypothalamus; Inflammation; Microglia; Obesity; S6K1; mTOR.
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