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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1254. doi: 10.1038/srep01254. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Hypothalamic neuronal toll-like receptor 2 protects against age-induced obesity.

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Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, 76100 Rehovot, Israel.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are traditionally associated with immune-mediated host defense. Here, we ascribe a novel extra-immune, hypothalamic-associated function to TLR2, a TLR-family member known to recognize lipid components, in the protection against obesity. We found that TLR2-deficient mice exhibited mature-onset obesity and susceptibility to high-fat diet (HFD)-induced weight gain, via modulation of food intake. Age-related obesity was still evident in chimeric mice, carrying comparable TLR2(+) immune cells, suggesting a non-hematopoietic-related involvement of this receptor. TLR2 was up-regulated with age or HFD in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, a brain area participating in central-metabolic regulation, possibly modulating the hypothalamic-anorexigenic peptide, α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH). Direct activation of TLR2 in a hypothalamic-neuronal cell-line via its known ligands, further supports its capacity to mediate non-immune related metabolic regulation. Thus, our findings identify TLR2 expressed by hypothalamic neurons as a potential novel regulator of age-related weight gain and energy expenditure.

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