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© 2016 the authors. Astrocytes are well established modulators of extracellular glutamate, but their direct influence on energy balance-relevant behaviors is largely understudied. As the anorectic effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists are partly mediated by central modulation of glutamatergic signaling, we tested the hypothesis that astrocytic GLP-1R signaling regulates energy balance in rats. Central or peripheral administration of a fluorophore-labeled GLP-1R agonist, exendin-4, localizes within astrocytes and neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), a hindbrain nucleus critical for energy balance control. This effect is mediated by GLP-1R, as the uptake of systemically administered fluorophore-tagged exendin-4 was blocked by central pretreatment with the competitive GLP-1R antagonist exendin-(9–39). Ex vivo analyses show prolonged exendin-4-induced activation (live cell calcium signaling) of NTS astrocytes and neurons; these effects are also attenuated by exendin-(9–39), indicating mediation by the GLP-1R. In vitro analyses show that the application of GLP-1R agonists increases cAMP levels in astrocytes. Immunohistochemical analyses reveal that endogenous GLP-1 axons form close synaptic apposition with NTS astrocytes. Finally, pharmacological inhibition of NTS astrocytes attenuates the anorectic and body weight-suppressive effects of intra-NTS GLP-1R activation. Collectively, data demonstrate a role for NTS astrocytic GLP-1R signaling in energy balance control.

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Journal of Neuroscience

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