The Regulatory Role of the Central and Peripheral Serotonin Network on Feeding Signals in Metabolic Diseases

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Central and peripheral serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) regulate feeding signals for energy metabolism. Disruption of central 5-HT signaling via 5-HT2C receptors (5-HT2CRs) induces leptin-independent hyperphagia in mice, leading to late-onset obesity, insulin resistance, and impaired glucose tolerance. 5-HT2CR mutant mice are more responsive than wild-type mice to a high-fat diet, exhibiting earlier-onset obesity and type 2 diabetes. High-fat and high-carbohydrate diets increase plasma 5-HT and fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) levels. Plasma 5-HT and FGF21 levels are increased in rodents and humans with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcohol fatty liver diseases (NAFLD). The increases in plasma FGF21 and hepatic FGF21 expression precede hyperin-sulinemia, insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet. Nutritional, pharmacologic, or genetic inhibition of peripheral 5-HT synthesis via tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (Tph1) decreases hepatic FGF21 expression and plasma FGF21 levels in mice. Thus, perturbing central 5-HT signaling via 5-HT2CRs alters feeding behavior. Increased energy intake via a high-fat diet and/or high-carbohydrate diet can upregulate gut-derived 5-HT synthesis via Tph1. Peripheral 5-HT upregulates hepatic FGF21 expression and plasma FGF21 levels, leading to metabolic diseases such as obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and NAFLD. The 5-HT network in the brain– gut–liver axis regulates feeding signals and may be involved in the development and/or prevention of metabolic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1600
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 1


  • 5-HT2CRs
  • Energy metabolism
  • FGF21
  • Feeding signals
  • Obesity
  • Serotonin
  • Tph1
  • Type 2 diabetes


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