GPR40 full agonism exerts feeding suppression and weight loss through afferent vagal nerve

PLoS One. 2019 Sep 16;14(9):e0222653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222653. eCollection 2019.


GPR40/FFAR1 is a Gq protein-coupled receptor expressed in pancreatic β cells and enteroendocrine cells, and mediates insulin and incretin secretion to regulate feeding behavior. Several GPR40 full agonists have been reported to reduce food intake in rodents by regulating gut hormone secretion in addition to their potent glucose-lowering effects; however, detailed mechanisms of feeding suppression are still unknown. In the present study, we characterized T-3601386, a novel compound with potent full agonistic activity for GPR40, by using in vitro Ca2+ mobilization assay in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells expressing FFAR1 and in vivo hormone secretion assay. We also evaluated feeding suppression and weight loss after the administration of T-3601386 and investigated the involvement of the vagal nerve in these effects. T-3601386, but not a partial agonist fasiglifam, increased intracellular Ca2+ levels in CHO cells with low FFAR1 expression, and single dosing of T-3601386 in diet-induced obese (DIO) rats elevated plasma incretin levels, suggesting full agonistic properties of T-3601386 against GPR40. Multiple doses of T-3601386, but not fasiglifam, in DIO rats showed dose-dependent weight loss accompanied by feeding suppression and durable glucagon-like peptide-1 elevation, all of which were completely abolished in Ffar1-/- mice. Immunohistochemical analysis in the nuclei of the solitary tract demonstrated that T-3601386 increased the number of c-Fos positive cells, which also disappeared in Ffar1-/- mice. Surgical vagotomy and drug-induced deafferentation counteracted the feeding suppression and weight loss induced by the administration of T-3601386. These results suggest that T-3601386 exerts incretin release and weight loss in a GPR40-dependent manner, and that afferent vagal nerves are important for the feeding suppression induced by GPR40 full agonism. Our novel findings raise the possibility that GPR40 full agonist can induce periphery-derived weight reduction, which may provide benefits such as less adverse effects in central nervous system compared to centrally-acting anti-obesity drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose / physiology
  • CHO Cells
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetulus
  • Enteroendocrine Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vagus Nerve / metabolism
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Ffar1 protein, mouse
  • Insulin
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Calcium

Grant support

This study was funded by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. During the time this study was conducted, Takeda also provided support in the form of salaries for authors [HU, RI, SA, HO, MM, YMi, YT, KT, NN]. SCOHIA PHARMA Inc. did provide a salary for an author [YMo], but did not fund this study. These companies did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.