Enteric neurons increase maternal food intake during reproduction

Dafni Hadjieconomou, George King, Pedro Gaspar, Alessandro Mineo, Laura Blackie, Tomotsune Ameku, Chris Studd, Alex de Mendoza, Fengqiu Diao, Benjamin H. White, André E.X. Brown, Pierre Yves Plaçais, Thomas Préat, Irene Miguel-Aliaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Reproduction induces increased food intake across females of many animal species1–4, providing a physiologically relevant paradigm for the exploration of appetite regulation. Here, by examining the diversity of enteric neurons in Drosophila melanogaster, we identify a key role for gut-innervating neurons with sex- and reproductive state-specific activity in sustaining the increased food intake of mothers during reproduction. Steroid and enteroendocrine hormones functionally remodel these neurons, which leads to the release of their neuropeptide onto the muscles of the crop—a stomach-like organ—after mating. Neuropeptide release changes the dynamics of crop enlargement, resulting in increased food intake, and preventing the post-mating remodelling of enteric neurons reduces both reproductive hyperphagia and reproductive fitness. The plasticity of enteric neurons is therefore key to reproductive success. Our findings provide a mechanism to attain the positive energy balance that sustains gestation, dysregulation of which could contribute to infertility or weight gain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-459
Number of pages5
Issue number7834
Early online date28 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020


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