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J Biol Chem. 2004 Mar 26;279(13):12005-8. Epub 2004 Jan 23.

AMP-activated protein kinase plays a role in the control of food intake.

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Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Centre, Cellular Stress Group and Endocrine Unit, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 ONN, United Kingdom.


AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is the downstream component of a protein kinase cascade that acts as an intracellular energy sensor maintaining the energy balance within the cell. The finding that leptin and adiponectin activate AMPK to alter metabolic pathways in muscle and liver provides direct evidence for this role in peripheral tissues. The hypothalamus is a key regulator of food intake and energy balance, coordinating body adiposity and nutritional state in response to peripheral hormones, such as leptin, peptide YY-(3-36), and ghrelin. To date the hormonal regulation of AMPK in the hypothalamus, or its potential role in the control of food intake, have not been reported. Here we demonstrate that counter-regulatory hormones involved in appetite control regulate AMPK activity and that pharmacological activation of AMPK in the hypothalamus increases food intake. In vivo administration of leptin, which leads to a reduction in food intake, decreases hypothalamic AMPK activity. By contrast, injection of ghrelin in vivo, which increases food intake, stimulates AMPK activity in the hypothalamus. Consistent with the effect of ghrelin, injection of 5-amino-4-imidazole carboxamide riboside, a pharmacological activator of AMPK, into either the third cerebral ventricle or directly into the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus significantly increased food intake. These results suggest that AMPK is regulated in the hypothalamus by hormones which regulate food intake. Furthermore, direct pharmacological activation of AMPK in the hypothalamus is sufficient to increase food intake. These findings demonstrate that AMPK plays a role in the regulation of feeding and identify AMPK as a novel target for anti-obesity drugs.

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