Hypothalamic Ceramide Levels Regulated by CPT1C Mediate the Orexigenic Effect of Ghrelin

  1. Núria Casals1,2
  1. 1Basic Sciences Department, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2CIBERobn Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
  3. 3Department of Physiology, CIMUS, University of Santiago de Compostela-Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  4. 4Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Pharmacy, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Corresponding authors: Miguel López, m.lopez{at}, and Núria Casals, ncasals{at}
  1. S.R. and L.M. contributed equally to this work.


Recent data suggest that ghrelin exerts its orexigenic action through regulation of hypothalamic AMP-activated protein kinase pathway, leading to a decline in malonyl-CoA levels and desinhibition of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A), which increases mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation and ultimately enhances the expression of the orexigenic neuropeptides agouti-related protein (AgRP) and neuropeptide Y (NPY). However, it is unclear whether the brain-specific isoform CPT1C, which is located in the endoplasmic reticulum of neurons, may play a role in this action. Here, we demonstrate that the orexigenic action of ghrelin is totally blunted in CPT1C knockout (KO) mice, despite having the canonical ghrelin signaling pathway activated. We also demonstrate that ghrelin elicits a marked upregulation of hypothalamic C18:0 ceramide levels mediated by CPT1C. Notably, central inhibition of ceramide synthesis with myriocin negated the orexigenic action of ghrelin and normalized the levels of AgRP and NPY, as well as their key transcription factors phosphorylated cAMP-response element–binding protein and forkhead box O1. Finally, central treatment with ceramide induced food intake and orexigenic neuropeptides expression in CPT1C KO mice. Overall, these data indicate that, in addition to formerly reported mechanisms, ghrelin also induces food intake through regulation of hypothalamic CPT1C and ceramide metabolism, a finding of potential importance for the understanding and treatment of obesity.

  • Received October 19, 2012.
  • Accepted March 8, 2013.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 62 no. 7 2329-2337
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