Increased intake of dietary carbohydrate that is fermented in the colon by the microbiota has been reported to decrease body weight, although the mechanism remains unclear. Here we use in vivo 11C-acetate and PET-CT scanning to show that colonic acetate crosses the blood–brain barrier and is taken up by the brain. Intraperitoneal acetate results in appetite suppression and hypothalamic neuronal activation patterning. We also show that acetate administration is associated with activation of acetyl-CoA carboxylase and changes in the expression profiles of regulatory neuropeptides that favour appetite suppression. Furthermore, we demonstrate through 13C high-resolution magic-angle-spinning that 13C acetate from fermentation of 13C-labelled carbohydrate in the colon increases hypothalamic 13C acetate above baseline levels. Hypothalamic 13C acetate regionally increases the 13C labelling of the glutamate–glutamine and GABA neuroglial cycles, with hypothalamic 13C lactate reaching higher levels than the ‘remaining brain’. These observations suggest that acetate has a direct role in central appetite regulation.
The consumption of fermentable carbohydrates, or fibre, is associated with weight loss. Here the authors show that the metabolite acetate, created by fermentation of fibre in the mouse colon, is taken up into the brain where it induces appetite-suppressing neuronal activity in the hypothalamus.