Hydrogen Sulfide Attenuates High-Fat Diet-Induced Obesity: Involvement of mTOR/IKK/NF-κB Signaling Pathway

Publication Name

Molecular Neurobiology


Obesity has become a public health epidemic worldwide and is associated with many diseases with high mortality including hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. High-fat diet (HFD)-induced energy imbalance is one of the primary causes of obesity, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully elucidated. Our study showed that HFD reduced the level of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and its catalytic enzyme cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) in mouse hypothalamus and plasma. We found that HFD activated mTOR, IKK/NF-κB, the main pathway regulating inflammation. Activation of inflammatory pathway promoted the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines including IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α, which caused cell damage and loss in the hypothalamus. The disturbance of the hypothalamic neuron circuits resulted in body weight gain in HFD-induced mice. Importantly, we also showed that restoration of H2S level with NaHS or activation of CBS with SAMe attenuated HFD-induced activation of mTOR, IKK/NF-κB signaling, which reduced the inflammation and the neuronal cell loss in the hypothalamus, and also inhibited body weight gain in mice. The same effects were obtained by inhibiting mTOR or NF-κB, which suggested that mTOR and NF-κB were the critical molecular factors involved in hypothalamic inflammation. Taken together, this study identified that HFD-induced hypothalamus inflammation plays a critical role in the development of obesity. Moreover, the inhibition of hypothalamic inflammation by regaining H2S level could be a potential therapeutic to prevent the development of obesity. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

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Funding Sponsor

Xuzhou Science and Technology Program



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