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Brain Res. 2005 Jan 25;1032(1-2):141-8.

Effects of fasting, leptin, and insulin on AGRP and POMC peptide release in the hypothalamus.

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Department of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 630 West 168th Street New York, NY 10032, USA.


Agouti-related protein (AGRP) and proopiomelanocortin (POMC) have opposing effects on melanocortin receptor (MC-R) signaling and energy balance, and are important targets for leptin and insulin in the hypothalamus. While food intake and leptin have documented effects on POMC and AGRP gene expression, and insulin has effects on POMC gene expression, little is known about their effects on POMC or AGRP peptide release. Here we have examined the effects of fasting, leptin, and insulin on the release of AGRP and the POMC-derived peptide gamma(3)-MSH from the perifused rat hypothalamus in vitro. In the first experiment, fasting (48 h) resulted in a significant overall decrease in gamma(3)-MSH release measured every 20 min during a 3-h baseline perifusion period and after depolarization with 56 mM KCl (p = 0.02); there was a trend towards an overall increase in the release of AGRP but this was not significant. When the ratio of gamma(3)-MSH/AGRP release was calculated at each time point, there was an overall decrease in gamma(3)-MSH/AGRP with fasting (p < 0.01). Further examination of the ratio of gamma(3)-MSH/AGRP revealed a 34% reduction (p < 0.05) in the basal area under the curve (AUC) and a 33% reduction (p < 0.01) in the post-KCl stimulated AUC in fasted vs. fed animals. In the second experiment, perifusion of hypothalamic slices with 10(-8) or 10(-7) M leptin for 2 h resulted in a significant decrease in the release of AGRP noted primarily after depolarization with KCl (p < 0.01); no effect was seen on gamma(3)-MSH release. Similarly, in a third experiment, perifusion with 10(-7) M insulin caused a significant decrease in AGRP release (p < 0.001) without affecting gamma(3)-MSH release. Thus, there is a significant decrease in gamma(3)-MSH and the ratio of gamma(3)-MSH to AGRP released during fasting, consistent with a net inhibition of hypothalamic MC-R signaling. In contrast, short-term treatment with leptin and insulin may inhibit MC-R signaling primarily by decreasing the release of AGRP.

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