Leptin is known to selectively suppress neural and behavioral responses to sweet-tasting compounds. However, themolecular basis for the effect of leptin on sweet taste is not known. Here, we report that leptin suppresses sweet taste via leptin receptors (Ob-Rb) and KATP channels expressed selectively in sweet-sensitive taste cells. Ob-Rb was more often expressed in taste cells that expressed T1R3 (a sweet receptor component) than in those that expressed glutamate-aspartate transporter (a marker for Type I taste cells) or GAD67 (a marker for Type III taste cells). Systemically administered leptin suppressed taste cell responses to sweet but not to bitter or sour compounds. This effect was blocked by a leptin antagonist and was absent in leptin receptor-deficient db/db mice and mice with diet-induced obesity. Blocking the KATP channel subunit sulfonylurea receptor 1, which was frequently coexpressed with Ob-Rb in T1R3-expressing taste cells, eliminated the effect of leptin on sweet taste. In contrast, activating the KATP channel with diazoxide mimicked the sweet-suppressing effect of leptin. These results indicate that leptin acts via Ob-Rb and KATP channels that are present in T1R3-expressing taste cells to selectively suppress their responses to sweet compounds.
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