The neural pathways through which central serotonergic systems regulate food intake and body weight remain to be fully elucidated. We report that serotonin, via action at serotonin1B receptors (5-HT1BRs), modulates the endogenous release of both agonists and antagonists of the melanocortin receptors, which are a core component of the central circuitry controlling body weight homeostasis. We also show that serotonin-induced hypophagia requires downstream activation of melanocortin 4, but not melanocortin 3, receptors. These results identify a primary mechanism underlying the serotonergic regulation of energy balance and provide an example of a centrally derived signal that reciprocally regulates melanocortin receptor agonists and antagonists in a similar manner to peripheral adiposity signals.
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