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Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 signaling pathway in solitary nucleus mediates cholecystokinin-induced suppression of food intake in rats.

Gregory M Sutton, Laurel M Patterson, Hans-Rudolf Berthoud

J. Neurosci., 2004 Nov 10 , 24, 10240-7

Increased food intake is a major factor in the development of obesity, and the control of meal size is a valid approach to reduce food intake in humans. Meal termination, or satiety, is thought to be organized within the caudal brainstem where direct signals from the food handling alimentary canal and long-term signals from the forebrain converge in the solitary nucleus. Cholecystokinin (CCK) released from the gut after ingestion of food has been strongly implicated in nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS)-mediated satiation, but the exact cellular and intracellular signaling events are not understood. Using Western blotting and immunohistochemistry with phosphospecific antibodies, we demonstrate here that peripheral administration of CCK in rats leads to rapid activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling cascade in NTS neurons and that blockade of ERK signaling with microinfusion of a selective mitogen-activated ERK kinase inhibitor into the fourth ventricle attenuates the capacity of CCK to suppress food intake. In addition, we show that CCK-induced activation of ERK results in phosphorylation of the voltage-dependent potassium channel Kv4.2 and the nuclear transcription factor CREB (cAMP response element-binding protein). The results demonstrate that ERK signaling is necessary for exogenous CCK to suppress food intake in deprived rats and suggest that this pathway may also be involved in natural satiation and the period of satiety between meals through coupling of ERK activation to both cytosolic and nuclear effector mechanisms that have the potential to confer acute and long-term changes in neuronal functioning.