Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A dopamine-to-serotonin circuit for the treatment of anorexia nervosa

Dopamine (DA) neurons in the ventral tegmental area bidirectionally regulate the activity of serotonin neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Low-strength activity causes inhibition via dopamine receptor D2, whereas high- strength activity causes activation via dopamine receptor D1, and this circuit contributes to anorexia nervosa-like behaviors in mice.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: A schematic diagram of abnormal activity in a DAVTA-to-5-HTDRN circuit that might underlie the pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa.


  1. Papadopoulos, F. C. & Ekselius, L. Excess mortality, causes of death and prognostic factors in anorexia nervosa. Br. J. Psychiatry 194, 10–17 (2009). This paper reports that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric diseases.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Watson, H. J. et al. Genome-wide association study identifies eight risk loci and implicates metabo-psychiatric origins for anorexia nervosa. Nat. Genet. 51, 1207–1214 (2019). This study reveals that DA neurons and 5-HT neurons are among the top-ranked cell types associated with human anorexia nervosa.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Mequinion, M. & Viltart, O. The use of animal models to decipher physiological and neurobiological alterations of anorexia nervosa patients. Front. Endocrinol. 6, 68 (2015). This review summarizes commonly used animal models for research into anorexia nervosa.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Nectow, A. R. & Friedman, J. M. Identification of a brainstem circuit controlling feeding. Cell 170, 429–442 (2017). This paper shows that glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons in the DRN regulate feeding behavior in mice.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Li, Y. & Li, X. M. Rostral and caudal ventral tegmental area GABAergic inputs to different dorsal raphe neurons participate in opioid dependence. Neuron 101, 748–761 (2019). This paper reveals that GABAergic neurons in the VTA send monosynaptic projections to DRN neurons.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This is a summary of: Cai, X. et al. A D2 to D1 shift in dopaminergic inputs to midbrain 5-HT neurons causes anorexia in mice. Nat. Neurosci. (2022)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

A dopamine-to-serotonin circuit for the treatment of anorexia nervosa. Nat Neurosci 25, 541–542 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing