Profound and redundant functions of arcuate neurons in obesity development

Nat Metab. 2020 Aug;2(8):763-774. doi: 10.1038/s42255-020-0229-2. Epub 2020 Jul 27.


The current obesity epidemic faces a lack of mechanistic insights. It is known that the acute activity changes of a growing number of brain neurons rapidly alter feeding behaviour; however, how these changes translate to obesity development and the fundamental mechanism underlying brain neurons in controlling body weight remain elusive. Here, we show that chronic activation of hypothalamic arcuate GABAergic (GABA+), agouti-related protein (AgRP) neurons or arcuate non-AgRP GABA+ neurons leads to obesity, which is similar to the obese phenotype observed in ob/ob mice. Conversely, chronic inhibition of arcuate GABA+, but not AgRP, neurons reduces ageing-related weight gain and corrects ob/ob obesity. These results demonstrate that the modulation of Arc GABA+ neuron activity is a fundamental mechanism of body-weight regulation, and that arcuate GABA+ neurons are the major mediator of leptin action, with a profound and redundant role in obesity development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Agouti-Related Protein / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / pathology*
  • Body Weight
  • Eating
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Leptin / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Obese
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Weight Gain
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Agrp protein, mouse
  • Leptin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid