Plasma levels of agouti-related protein are increased in obese men

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 May;86(5):1921-4. doi: 10.1210/jcem.86.5.7458.


To investigate the relationship between peripheral blood levels of agouti-related protein (AGRP) and various parameters of obesity, we measured the plasma level of AGRP in 15 obese and 15 nonobese men and evaluated its relationship with body mass index (BMI), body fat weight, and visceral, sc, and total fat areas measured by computed tomography, fasting insulin levels, glucose infusion rate during an euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp study, serum leptin, and plasma alpha-MSH. Obese men had significantly higher plasma concentrations of AGRP than nonobese men (P < 0.01). Univariate analysis showed that the plasma levels of AGRP are proportionally correlated with BMI, body fat weight, and sc fat area in obese men (BMI: r = 0.732, P < 0.01; body fat weight: r = 0.603, P < 0.02; sc fat area: r = 0.668, P < 0.01) and in all men (BMI: r = 0.839, P < 0.0001; body fat weight: r = 0.818, P < 0.0001; sc fat area: r = 0.728, P < 0.0001). In all men, the plasma levels of AGRP were significantly correlated with the visceral fat area (r = 0.478, P < 0.01), total fat area (r = 0.655, P < 0.0001), fasting insulin level (r = 0.488, P < 0.01), glucose infusion rate (r = -0.564, P < 0.01), serum level of leptin (r = 0.661, P < 0.0001), and the plasma level of alpha-MSH (r = 0.556, P < 0.01). In all subjects, multiple regression analysis showed that the plasma levels of AGRP are significantly (F = 15.522, r = 0.801, P < 0.03) correlated with the plasma levels of alpha-MSH, independently from the total fat area. However, the correlation between plasma levels of AGRP and serum levels of leptin was found to be dependent on the total fat area. In brief, these findings showed that the circulating levels of AGRP are increased in obese men and that they are correlated with various parameters of obesity. Although correlation does not prove causation, the results of this study suggest that peripheral AGRP may play a role in the pathogenesis of obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Leptin / blood
  • Male
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • alpha-MSH / blood


  • AGRP protein, human
  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Leptin
  • Proteins
  • alpha-MSH