Weight-independent effects of roux-en-Y gastric bypass on glucose homeostasis via melanocortin-4 receptors in mice and humans

Juliet F. Zechner, Uyenlinh L. Mirshahi, Santhosh Satapati, Eric D. Berglund, Jari Rossi, Michael M. Scott, Christopher D. Still, Glenn S. Gerhard, Shawn C. Burgess, Tooraj Mirshahi, Vincent Aguirre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) improves glucose homeostasis independently of changes in body weight by unknown mechanisms. Melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4R) have weight-independent effects on glucose homeostasis, via autonomic neurons, and also might contribute to weight loss after RYGB. We investigated whether MC4Rs mediate effects of RYGB, such as its weight-independent effects on glucose homeostasis, in mice and humans. Methods: We studied C57BL/6 mice with diet-induced obesity, MC4R-deficient mice, and mice that re-express MC4R specifically in autonomic neurons after RYGB or sham surgeries. We also sequenced the MC4R locus in patients undergoing RYGB to investigate diabetes resolution in carriers of rare MC4R variants. Results: MC4Rs in autonomic brainstem neurons (including the parasympathetic dorsal motor vagus) mediated improved glucose homeostasis independent of changes in body weight. In contrast, MC4Rs in cholinergic preganglionic motor neurons (sympathetic and parasympathetic) mediated RYGB-induced increased energy expenditure and weight loss. Increased energy expenditure after RYGB is the predominant mechanism of weight loss and confers resistance to weight gain from a high-fat diet, the effects of which are MC4R-dependent. MC4R-dependent effects of RYGB still occurred in mice with Mc4r haplosufficiency, and early stage diabetes resolved at a similar rate in patients with rare variants of MC4R and noncarriers. However, carriers of MC4R (I251L), a rare variant associated with increased weight loss after RYGB and increased basal activity in vitro, were more likely to have early and weight-independent resolution of diabetes than noncarriers, indicating a role for MC4Rs in the effects of RYGB. Conclusions: MC4Rs in autonomic neurons mediate beneficial effects of RYGB, including weight-independent improved glucose homeostasis, in mice and humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-590.e7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Insulin Sensitivity
  • Mouse Model
  • Stomach
  • Weight-Loss Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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