Serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT) is a key regulator of serotonin neurotransmission and a major target of antidepressants. Antidepressants, such as selectively serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), that block SERT function are known to affect food intake and body weight. Here, we provide genetic evidence that food intake and metabolism are regulated by separable mechanisms of SERT function. SERT-deficient mice ate less during both normal diet and high fat diet feeding. The reduced food intake was accompanied with markedly elevated plasma leptin levels. Despite reduced food intake, SERT-deficient mice exhibited glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, and progressively developed obesity and hepatic steatosis. Several lines of evidence indicate that the metabolic deficits of SERT-deficient mice are attributable to reduced insulin-sensitivity in peripheral tissues. First, SERT-deficient mice exhibited beta-cell hyperplasia and islet-mass expansion. Second, biochemical analyses revealed constitutively elevated JNK activity and diminished insulin-induced AKT activation in the liver of SERT-deficient mice. SERT-deficient mice exhibited hyper-JNK activity and hyperinsulinemia prior to the development of obesity. Third, enhancing AKT signaling by PTEN deficiency corrected glucose tolerance in SERT-deficient mice. These findings have potential implications for designing selective SERT drugs for weight control and the treatment of metabolic syndromes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences