Comorbidity exists between metabolic disorders and depressive syndrome with unclear mechanisms. To characterize the causal relationship, we adopted a 12-week high-fat diet (HFD) to induce metabolic disorder and depressive phenotypes in mice. Initially, we identified an enhanced glutamatergic input in the nucleus accumbens of HFD mice. Retrograde tracing and chemogenetic inhibition showed that the hyperactive ventral hippocampal glutamatergic afferents to the nucleus accumbens determined the exhibition of depression-like behavior in HFD mice. Using lentiviral knockdown and overexpression approaches, we proved that HFD-induced downregulation of glial glutamate transporters, GLAST and GLT-1, contributed to the observed circuit maladaptations and subsequent depression-like behaviors. Finally, we identified a potential therapeutic agent, riluzole, which could mitigate the HFD-induced behavioral deficits by normalizing the expressions of GLAST and GLT-1 and ventral hippocampal glutamatergic afferents to the nucleus accumbens. Overall, astrocyte-mediated disturbance in glutamatergic transmission underlies the metabolic disorder-related depressive syndrome and represents a therapeutic target for this subtype of depressive mood disorders.
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