Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 and its Analogues Act in the Dorsal Raphe and Modulate Central Serotonin to Reduce Appetite and Body Weight.
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and serotonin play critical roles in energy balance regulation. Both systems are exploited clinically as anti-obesity strategies. Surprisingly whether they interact in order to regulate energy balance is poorly understood. Here we investigated mechanisms by which GLP-1 and serotonin interact at the level of the CNS. Serotonin depletion impaired the ability of exendin-4, a clinically utilized GLP-1 analogue, to reduce body weight in rats, suggesting serotonin is a critical mediator of the energy balance impact of GLP-1R activation. Serotonin turnover and expression of 5HT2A and 5HT2C serotonin receptors in the hypothalamus were altered by GLP-1R activation. We demonstrate that 5HT2A, but surprisingly not 5HT2C, receptor is critical for weight-loss, anorexia and fat mass reduction induced by central GLP-1R activation. Importantly, central 5HT2A receptors are also required for peripherally injected liraglutide to reduce feeding and weight. Dorsal raphe (DR) harbors cell bodies of serotonin producing neurons that supply serotonin to the hypothalamic nuclei. We show that GLP-1R stimulation in DR is sufficient to induce hypophagia and increase electrical activity of the DR serotonin neurons. Finally our results disassociate brain metabolic and emotionality pathways impacted by GLP-1R activation. This study identifies serotonin as new critical neural substrate for GLP-1 impact on energy homeostasis, and expands the current map of brain areas impacted by GLP-1R activation.