Oxysterols are metabolites of cholesterol produced in peripheral tissues as a means to eliminate cholesterol. 27-hydroxycholesterol (27HC) is the most abundant oxysterols and can cross the blood-brain barrier. Interestingly, 27HC has recently been identified as an endogenous selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) for both estrogen receptor α and β (ERα/β) . Considering the regulatory effects of brain estrogen/ERα signaling on energy metabolism, we hypothesize that the endogenous SERM 27HC binds with ERα in the arcuate nucleus of hypothalamus (ARH) of brain to modulate energy homeostasis.In supporting this point of view, we found that a single acute intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of 27HC inhibited food intake in both male and female mice. The reduced food intake was attributed to decreased meal size and increased intermeal intervals. This anorexigenic effect was also associated with the increased c-fos expression in the pro-opiomelanocortin neurons in ARH (POMCARH) . Using brain slice patch-clamp recording, we consistently showed that 27HC dose-dependently actives POMCARH in an ERα-dependent manner, suggesting a mediating role of ERα expressed by POMCARH neurons. Notably, we further revealed that the inhibitory effects of 27HC on food intake were blocked by antagonists for ERα or POMC downstream melanocortin 3/4 receptors. In addition, chemogenetic inhibition of POMCARH neurons also blunted the anorexigenic effects of 27HC in mice. Collectively, these results support a model that 27HC acutely inhibits food intake by acting on ERα to stimulate POMCARH neuronal activity. This 27HC/ERα/POMC signaling pathway may serve as a critical defending mechanism against high-fat diet-induced obesity.


H. Ye: None. B. Feng: None. D. Dixit: None. Y. He: None. P. Xu: None.

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