Inhibition of mitochondrial fission and iNOS in the dorsal vagal complex protects from overeating and weight gain

Bianca Patel, Lauryn E. New, Joanne C. Griffiths, Jim Deuchars, Beatrice M. Filippi


The dorsal vagal complex (DVC) senses insulin and controls glucose homeostasis, feeding behaviour and body weight. Three-days of high-fat diet (HFD) in rats are sufficient to induce insulin resistance in the DVC and impair its ability to regulate feeding behaviour. HFD-feeding is associated with increased dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1)-dependent mitochondrial fission in the DVC. We investigated the effects that altered Drp1 activity in the DVC has on feeding behaviour. Additionally, we aimed to uncover the molecular events and the neuronal cell populations associated with DVC insulin sensing and resistance.


Eight-week-old male Sprague Dawley rats received DVC stereotactic surgery for brain infusion to facilitate the localised administration of insulin or viruses to express mutated forms of Drp1 or to knockdown inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in the NTS of the DVC. High-Fat diet feeding was used to cause insulin resistance and obesity.


We showed that Drp1 activation in the DVC increases weight gain in rats and Drp1 inhibition in HFD-fed rats reduced food intake, weight gain and adipose tissue. Rats expressing active Drp1 in the DVC had higher levels of iNOS and knockdown of DVC iNOS in HFD-fed rats led to a reduction of food intake, weight gain and adipose tissue. Finally, inhibiting mitochondrial fission in DVC astrocytes was sufficient to protect rats from HFD-dependent insulin resistance, hyperphagia, weight gain and fat deposition.


We uncovered new molecular and cellular targets for brain regulation of whole-body metabolism, which could inform new strategies to combat obesity and diabetes.