GLP-1 Neurons in the Nucleus of the Solitary Tract Project Directly to the Ventral Tegmental Area and Nucleus Accumbens to Control for Food Intake

Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.
Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.64). 11/2011; 153(2):647-58. DOI: 10.1210/en.2011-1443
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Central glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor activation reduces food intake; however, brain nuclei and mechanism(s) mediating this effect remain poorly understood. Although central nervous system GLP-1 is produced almost exclusively in the nucleus of the solitary tract in the hindbrain, GLP-1 receptors (GLP-1R) are expressed throughout the brain, including nuclei in the mesolimbic reward system (MRS), e.g. the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Here, we examine the MRS as a potential site of action for GLP-1-mediated control of food intake and body weight. Double immunohistochemistry for Fluorogold (monosynaptic retrograde tracer) and GLP-1 neuron immunoreactivity indicated that GLP-1-producing nucleus tractus solitarius neurons project directly to the VTA, the NAc core, and the NAc shell. Pharmacological data showed that GLP-1R activation in the VTA, NAc core, and NAc shell decreased food intake, especially of highly-palatable foods, and body weight. Moreover, blockade of endogenous GLP-1R signaling in the VTA and NAc core resulted in a significant increase in food intake, establishing a physiological relevance for GLP-1 signaling in the MRS. Current data highlight these nuclei within the MRS as novel sites for GLP-1R-mediated control of food intake and body weight.

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