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Science. 2005 Oct 28;310(5748):683-5.

NPY/AgRP neurons are essential for feeding in adult mice but can be ablated in neonates.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington, Box 357370, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Hypothalamic neurons that express neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related protein (AgRP) are thought to be critical regulators of feeding behavior and body weight. To determine whether NPY/AgRP neurons are essential in mice, we targeted the human diphtheria toxin receptor to the Agrp locus, which allows temporally controlled ablation of NPY/AgRP neurons to occur after an injection of diphtheria toxin. Neonatal ablation of NPY/AgRP neurons had minimal effects on feeding, whereas their ablation in adults caused rapid starvation. These results suggest that network-based compensatory mechanisms can develop after the ablation of NPY/AgRP neurons in neonates but do not readily occur when these neurons become essential in adults.

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