Orexigenic action of peripheral ghrelin is mediated by neuropeptide Y and agouti-related protein

Endocrinology. 2004 Jun;145(6):2607-12. doi: 10.1210/en.2003-1596. Epub 2004 Feb 12.


Ghrelin, a stomach-derived orexigenic hormone, has stimulated great interest as a potential target for obesity control. Pharmacological evidence indicates that ghrelin's effects on food intake are mediated by neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related protein (AgRP) in the central nervous system. These include intracerebroventricular application of antibodies to neutralize NPY and AgRP, and the application of an NPY Y1 receptor antagonist, which blocks some of the orexigenic effects of ghrelin. Here we describe treatment of Agrp(-/-);Npy(-/-) and Mc3r(-/-);Mc4r(-/-) double knockout mice as well as Npy(-/-) and Agrp(-/-) single knockout mice with either ghrelin or an orally active nonpeptide ghrelin agonist. The data demonstrate that NPY and AgRP are required for the orexigenic effects of ghrelin, as well as the involvement of the melanocortin pathway in ghrelin signaling. Our results outline a functional interaction between the NPY and AgRP pathways. Although deletion of either NPY or AgRP caused only a modest or nondetectable effect, ablation of both ligands completely abolished the orexigenic action of ghrelin. Our results establish an in vivo orexigenic function for NPY and AgRP, mediating the effect of ghrelin.

MeSH terms

  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Animals
  • Appetite / drug effects
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Ghrelin
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neuropeptide Y / physiology*
  • Peptide Hormones / pharmacology
  • Peptide Hormones / physiology*
  • Proteins / physiology*
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 3 / physiology
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / physiology
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology
  • Receptors, Ghrelin


  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Agrp protein, mouse
  • Ghrelin
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mc3r protein, mouse
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Peptide Hormones
  • Proteins
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 3
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Ghrelin