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Endocrinology. 1999 Feb;140(2):814-7.

Hypothalamic agouti-related protein messenger ribonucleic acid is inhibited by leptin and stimulated by fasting.

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  • 1Fishberg Center for Neurobiology, Department of Geriatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Agouti-related protein (AGRP) is a homologue of the agouti gene product and, when overexpressed, promotes obesity. Like neuropeptide Y (NPY) messenger RNA (mRNA), AGRP mRNA is produced in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus and is elevated in leptin-deficient ob/ob and leptin-resistant db/db mice. These data suggest that AGRP mRNA might be affected by leptin and nutritional status in parallel with NPY mRNA. To test this hypothesis, we examined if AGRP mRNA would be, like NPY mRNA, inhibited by leptin injections and stimulated by fasting. AGRP mRNA was elevated in ob/ob mice about 5-fold compared with wild-type controls and was significantly inhibited by leptin treatment, as assessed by Northern blot analysis. In wild-type mice, AGRP mRNA was increased at least 13-fold by a 2-day fast, as assessed both by Northern blot analysis and in situ hybridization. In ad lib fed db/db mice, AGRP mRNA was elevated about 8-fold compared with ad lib fed wild-type controls, and was further increased by fasting in db/db mice. These data suggest that AGRP mRNA and NPY mRNA respond similarly to leptin and fasting.

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