Activation of arcuate nucleus glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor-expressing neurons suppresses food intake

Cell Biosci. 2022 Oct 29;12(1):178. doi: 10.1186/s13578-022-00914-3.


Background: Central nervous system (CNS) control of metabolism plays a pivotal role in maintaining energy balance. In the brain, Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), encoded by the proglucagon 'Gcg' gene, produced in a distinct population of neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), has been shown to regulate feeding behavior leading to the suppression of appetite. However, neuronal networks that mediate endogenous GLP-1 action in the CNS on feeding and energy balance are not well understood.

Results: We analyzed the distribution of GLP-1R-expressing neurons and axonal projections of NTS GLP-1-producing neurons in the mouse brain. GLP-1R neurons were found to be broadly distributed in the brain and specific forebrain regions, particularly the hypothalamus, including the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC), a brain region known to regulate energy homeostasis and feeding behavior, that receives dense NTSGcg neuronal projections. The impact of GLP-1 signaling in the ARC GLP-1R-expressing neurons and the impact of activation of ARC GLP-1R on food intake was examined. Application of GLP-1R specific agonist Exendin-4 (Exn-4) enhanced a proportion of the ARC GLP-1R-expressing neurons and pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neuronal action potential firing rates. Chemogenetic activation of the ARC GLP-1R neurons by using Cre-dependent hM3Dq AAV in the GLP-1R-ires-Cre mice, established that acute activation of the ARC GLP-1R neurons significantly suppressed food intake but did not have a strong impact on glucose homeostasis.

Conclusions: These results highlight the importance of central GLP-1 signaling in the ARC that express GLP-1R that upon activation, regulate feeding behavior.

Keywords: Chemogenetics; Exendin-4; Feeding; Glucagon-like peptide-1; Glucose tolerance; Hypothalamus; Pro-opiomelanocortin.