Identification of a Brainstem Circuit Controlling Feeding

Alexander R. Nectow, Marc Schneeberger, Hongxing Zhang, Bianca C. Field, Nicolas Renier, Estefania Azevedo, Bindiben Patel, Yupu Liang, Siddhartha Mitra, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ming Hu Han, Jeffrey M. Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Hunger, driven by negative energy balance, elicits the search for and consumption of food. While this response is in part mediated by neurons in the hypothalamus, the role of specific cell types in other brain regions is less well defined. Here, we show that neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus, expressing vesicular transporters for GABA or glutamate (hereafter, DRNVgat and DRNVGLUT3 neurons), are reciprocally activated by changes in energy balance and that modulating their activity has opposite effects on feeding—DRNVgat neurons increase, whereas DRNVGLUT3 neurons suppress, food intake. Furthermore, modulation of these neurons in obese (ob/ob) mice suppresses food intake and body weight and normalizes locomotor activity. Finally, using molecular profiling, we identify druggable targets in these neurons and show that local infusion of agonists for specific receptors on these neurons has potent effects on feeding. These data establish the DRN as an important node controlling energy balance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-442.e11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 27 Jul 2017


  • body weight
  • dorsal raphe nucleus
  • energy homeostasis
  • feeding
  • leptin resistance
  • locomotor activity
  • obesity


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