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The Journal of clinical investigation

Estrogens stimulate serotonin neurons to inhibit binge-like eating in mice.


PMID 25157819

Abstract

Binge eating afflicts approximately 5% of US adults, though effective treatments are limited. Here, we showed that estrogen replacement substantially suppresses binge-like eating behavior in ovariectomized female mice. Estrogen-dependent inhibition of binge-like eating was blocked in female mice specifically lacking estrogen receptor-α (ERα) in serotonin (5-HT) neurons in the dorsal raphe nuclei (DRN). Administration of a recently developed glucagon-like peptide-1-estrogen (GLP-1-estrogen) conjugate designed to deliver estrogen to GLP1 receptor-enhanced regions effectively targeted bioactive estrogens to the DRN and substantially suppressed binge-like eating in ovariectomized female mice. Administration of GLP-1 alone reduced binge-like eating, but not to the same extent as the GLP-1-estrogen conjugate. Administration of ERα-selective agonist propylpyrazole triol (PPT) to murine DRN 5-HT neurons activated these neurons in an ERα-dependent manner. PPT also inhibited a small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (SK) current; blockade of the SK current prevented PPT-induced activation of DRN 5-HT neurons. Furthermore, local inhibition of the SK current in the DRN markedly suppressed binge-like eating in female mice. Together, our data indicate that estrogens act upon ERα to inhibit the SK current in DRN 5-HT neurons, thereby activating these neurons to suppress binge-like eating behavior and suggest ERα and/or SK current in DRN 5-HT neurons as potential targets for anti-binge therapies.