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Neuron. 2011 Feb 10;69(3):523-35. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.12.036.

Neuropeptide exocytosis involving synaptotagmin-4 and oxytocin in hypothalamic programming of body weight and energy balance.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Diabetes Research Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Hypothalamic neuropeptides play essential roles in regulating energy and body weight balance. Energy imbalance and obesity have been linked to hypothalamic signaling defects in regulating neuropeptide genes; however, it is unknown whether dysregulation of neuropeptide exocytosis could be critically involved. This study discovered that synaptotagmin-4, an atypical modulator of synaptic exocytosis, is expressed most abundantly in oxytocin neurons of the hypothalamus. Synaptotagmin-4 negatively regulates oxytocin exocytosis, and dietary obesity is associated with increased vesicle binding of synaptotagmin-4 and thus enhanced negative regulation of oxytocin release. Overexpressing synaptotagmin-4 in hypothalamic oxytocin neurons and centrally antagonizing oxytocin in mice are similarly obesogenic. Synaptotagmin-4 inhibition prevents against dietary obesity by normalizing oxytocin release and energy balance under chronic nutritional excess. In conclusion, the negative regulation of synaptotagmin-4 on oxytocin release represents a hypothalamic basis of neuropeptide exocytosis in controlling obesity and related diseases.

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