GDF15 Provides an Endocrine Signal of Nutritional Stress in Mice and Humans

Satish Patel, Anna Alvarez-Guaita, Audrey Melvin, Debra Rimmington, Alessia Dattilo, Emily L Miedzybrodzka, Irene Cimino, Anne-Catherine Maurin, Geoffrey P Roberts, Claire L Meek, Samuel Virtue, Lauren M Sparks, Stephanie A Parsons, Leanne M Redman, George A Bray, Alice P Liou, Rachel M Woods, Sion A Parry, Per B Jeppesen, Anders J KolnesHeather P Harding, David Ron, Antonio Vidal-Puig, Frank Reimann, Fiona M Gribble, Carl J Hulston, I Sadaf Farooqi, Steven R Smith, Jorgen Jensen, Danna Breen, Zhidan Wu, Anthony P Coll, Bei B Zhang, David B Savage, Stephen O'Rahilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


GDF15 is an established biomarker of cellular stress. The fact that it signals via a specific hindbrain receptor, GFRAL, and that mice lacking GDF15 manifest diet-induced obesity suggest that GDF15 may play a physiological role in energy balance. We performed experiments in humans, mice, and cells to determine if and how nutritional perturbations modify GDF15 expression. Circulating GDF15 levels manifest very modest changes in response to moderate caloric surpluses or deficits in mice or humans, differentiating it from classical intestinally derived satiety hormones and leptin. However, GDF15 levels do increase following sustained high-fat feeding or dietary amino acid imbalance in mice. We demonstrate that GDF15 expression is regulated by the integrated stress response and is induced in selected tissues in mice in these settings. Finally, we show that pharmacological GDF15 administration to mice can trigger conditioned taste aversion, suggesting that GDF15 may induce an aversive response to nutritional stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-718.e8
JournalCell metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2019


  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Diet, High-Fat/methods
  • Energy Intake/physiology
  • Growth Differentiation Factor 15/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult


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