5-HT obesity medication efficacy via POMC activation is maintained during aging

Luke K Burke, Barbora Doslikova, Giuseppe D'Agostino, Alastair S Garfield, Gala Farooq, Denis Burdakov, Malcolm Low, Marcelo Rubinstein, Mark L Evans, Brian Billups, Lora Heisler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


The phenomenon commonly described as "the middle-age spread" is the result of elevated adiposity accumulation throughout adulthood until late middle-age. It is a clinical imperative to gain a greater understanding of the underpinnings of age-dependent obesity and in turn, how these mechanisms may impact the efficacy of obesity treatments. In particular, both obesity and aging are associated with rewiring of a principal brain pathway modulating energy homeostasis, promoting reduced activity of satiety melanocortin pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons within the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC). Utilizing a selective ARC deficient POMC mouse line, here we report that former obesity medications augmenting endogenous 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) activity d-fenfluramine and sibutramine require ARC POMC neurons to elicit therapeutic appetite suppressive effects. We next investigated whether age-related diminished ARC POMC activity therefore impacts the potency of 5-HT obesity pharmacotherapies, lorcaserin, d-fenfluramine and sibutramine and report that all compounds reduced food intake to a comparable extent in both chow fed young lean (3-5 months old) and middle-aged obese (12-14 months old) male and female mice. We provide a mechanism through which 5-HT anorectic potency is maintained with age, via preserved 5-HT-POMC appetitive anatomical machinery. Specifically, the abundance and signalling of the primary 5-HT receptor influencing appetite via POMC activation, the 5-HT2CR, is not perturbed with age. These data reveal that though 5-HT obesity medications require ARC POMC neurons to achieve appetitive effects, the anorectic efficacy is maintained with aging; findings of clinical significance to the global aging obese population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3732–3738
Number of pages7
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2014


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