Mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor (MANF) is an emerging regulator in metabolic control. Hypothalamic pro-opimelanocortin (POMC) neurons play critical roles in maintaning whole-body energy homeostasis. Whether MANF in POMC neurons is required for the proper regulation of energy balance remains unknown. Here, we showed that mice lacking MANF in POMC neurons were more prone to develop diet-induced obesity. In addition, the ablation of MANF induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and leptin resistance in the hypothalamus, reduced POMC expression and post-translational processing, and ultimately decreased sympathetic nerve activity and thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT). Conversely, MANF overexpression in hypothalamic POMC neurons attenuated ER stress, increased POMC expression and processing, and then stimulated sympathetic innervation and activity in BAT, resulting in increased BAT thermogenesis, thus protecting mice against dietary obesity. Overall, our findings provide evidence that MANF is required for POMC neurons to combat obesity.

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