Endogenous cannabinoids are required for MC4R-mediated control of energy homeostasis

Yu Yong, Isin Cakir, Pauline Lining Pan, Jessica E. Biddinger, Rebecca J. Bluett, Ken Mackie, Nathan Bingham, Sachin Patel*, Masoud Ghamari-Langroudi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Hypothalamic regulation of feeding and energy expenditure is a fundamental and evolutionarily conserved neurophysiological process critical for survival. Dysregulation of these processes, due to environmental or genetic causes, can lead to a variety of pathological conditions ranging from obesity to anorexia. Melanocortins and endogenous cannabinoids (eCBs) have been implicated in the regulation of feeding and energy homeostasis; however, the interaction between these signaling systems is poorly understood. Here, we show that the eCB 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) regulates the activity of melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) cells in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVNMC4R) via inhibition of afferent GABAergic drive. Furthermore, the tonicity of eCBs signaling is inversely proportional to energy state, and mice with impaired 2-AG synthesis within MC4R neurons weigh less, are hypophagic, exhibit increased energy expenditure, and are resistant to diet-induced obesity. These mice also exhibit MC4R agonist insensitivity, suggesting that the energy state-dependent, 2-AG-mediated suppression of GABA input modulates PVNMC4R neuron activity to effectively respond to the MC4R natural ligands to regulate energy homeostasis. Furthermore, post-developmental disruption of PVN 2-AG synthesis results in hypophagia and death. These findings illustrate a functional interaction at the cellular level between two fundamental regulators of energy homeostasis, the melanocortin and eCB signaling pathways in the hypothalamic feeding circuitry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2015990118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 19 2021


  • Endogenous cannabinoids
  • Energy homeostasis
  • GABA neurotransmission
  • Melanocortin 4 receptor
  • Paraventricular nucleus of hypothalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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