Previous results demonstrate that leptin mainly acts on γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic neurons to reduce body weight, and that leptin activates proopiomelanocortin neuron activity by reducing GABA release onto these neurons, suggesting a body weight-promoting role for GABA released from leptin-inhibited neurons.
To directly examine the role of GABA release from LepR neurons in body weight regulation, mice with disruption of GABA release specifically from LepR neurons were generated by deletion of vesicular GABA transporter in LepR neurons. Interestingly, these mice developed mild obesity on chow diet and were sensitive to diet-induced obesity, which were associated with higher food intake and lower energy expenditure. Moreover, these mice showed blunted responses in both food intake and body weight to acute leptin administration.
These results demonstrate that GABA plays an important role in mediating leptin action.
In combination with the previous studies that leptin reduces GABA release onto proopiomelanocortin neurons through leptin-inhibited neurons and that disruption of GABA release from agouti gene-related protein neurons, one subset of LepR-inhibited neurons, leads to a lean phenotype, our results suggest that, under our experimental conditions, GABA release from leptin-excited neuron dominates over leptin-inhibited ones.