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Neuron. 2006 Jul 20;51(2):239-49.

Serotonin reciprocally regulates melanocortin neurons to modulate food intake.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ, United Kingdom.


The neural pathways through which central serotonergic systems regulate food intake and body weight remain to be fully elucidated. We report that serotonin, via action at serotonin1B receptors (5-HT1BRs), modulates the endogenous release of both agonists and antagonists of the melanocortin receptors, which are a core component of the central circuitry controlling body weight homeostasis. We also show that serotonin-induced hypophagia requires downstream activation of melanocortin 4, but not melanocortin 3, receptors. These results identify a primary mechanism underlying the serotonergic regulation of energy balance and provide an example of a centrally derived signal that reciprocally regulates melanocortin receptor agonists and antagonists in a similar manner to peripheral adiposity signals.

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