Hormone and glucose signalling in POMC and AgRP neurons

J Physiol. 2009 Nov 15;587(Pt 22):5305-14. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.179192. Epub 2009 Sep 21.


In the wake of the obesity pandemic, increased research efforts are under way to define how peripheral hormones and metabolites regulate energy homeostasis. The melanocortin system, comprising anorexigenic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) expressing neurons and orexigenic agouti-related protein (AgRP)/neuropeptide Y (NPY) coexpressing neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus are crucial for normal energy homeostasis both in rodents and humans. They are regulated by peripheral hormones such as leptin and insulin, as well as nutrients such as glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. Although much progress has been made, recent reports continue to underline how restricted our understanding of POMC and AgRP/NPY neuron regulation by these signals is. Importantly, ATP-dependent potassium (K(ATP)) channels are regulated both by ATP (from glucose metabolism) and by leptin and insulin, and directly control electrical excitability of both POMC and AgRP neurons. Thus, this review attempts to offer an integrative overview about how peripheral signals, particularly leptin, insulin and glucose, converge on a molecular level in POMC and AgRP neurons of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus to control energy homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agouti-Related Protein / biosynthesis
  • Agouti-Related Protein / metabolism
  • Agouti-Related Protein / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Leptin / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin / biosynthesis
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin / metabolism
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin