The central nervous system (CNS) circuits that regulate binge eating remain to be identified, and effective treatments for binge eating are limited. Here, we provide evidence to support the vital role of asprosin, a novel fasting-induced glucogenic and orexigenic hormone, in the development of binge eating. We found that heterozygous deletion of fibrillin 1, the gene encoding asprosin protein, led to a 50% decrease in asprosin production and reduced binge-like eating behavior in mice. Consistently, systemic treatment of asprosin promoted, while an asprosin-neutralizing antibody inhibited, binge-like eating behavior. These behavioral changes were associated with increased or decreased activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) producing neurons in the zona incerta (ZI) brain region, respectively. Mechanistically, we further demonstrate that asprosin stimulates ZI GABA neurons by decreasing small-conductance, calcium-activated potassium (SK) currents. Conversely, the asprosin-neutralizing antibody inhibits ZI GABA neurons by increasing SK currents. Our results support a model that asprosin decreases SK currents to stimulate ZI GABA neurons, further promoting binge-like eating behavior and causing obesity in mice. Our findings also provided preclinical evidence that asprosin-neutralizing antibodies could be used to treat binge eating.

Keywords: Asprosin, neutralizing antibody, binge eating, obesity, GABA neurons


P. Xu: None. Y. He: None.


National Institutes of Health (P30 DK072476)

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at