TXNIP in Agrp neurons regulates adiposity, energy expenditure, and central leptin sensitivity

J Neurosci. 2012 Jul 18;32(29):9870-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0353-12.2012.


Thioredoxin interacting protein (TXNIP) has recently been described as a key regulator of energy metabolism through pleiotropic actions that include nutrient sensing in the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH). However, the role of TXNIP in neurochemically specific hypothalamic subpopulations and the circuits downstream from MBH TXNIP engaged to regulate energy homeostasis remain unexplored. To evaluate the metabolic role of TXNIP activity specifically within arcuate Agrp neurons, we generated Agrp-specific TXNIP gain-of-function and loss-of-function mouse models using Agrp-Ires-cre mice, TXNIP (flox/flox) mice, and a lentivector expressing the human TXNIP isoform conditionally in the presence of Cre recombinase. Overexpression of TXNIP in Agrp neurons predisposed to diet-induced obesity and adipose tissue storage by decreasing energy expenditure and spontaneous locomotion, without affecting food intake. Conversely, Agrp neuronal TXNIP deletion protected against diet-induced obesity and adipose tissue storage by increasing energy expenditure and spontaneous locomotion, also without affecting food intake. TXNIP overexpression in Agrp neurons did not primarily affect glycemic control, whereas deletion of TXNIP in Agrp neurons improved fasting glucose levels and glucose tolerance independently of its effects on body weight and adiposity. Bidirectional manipulation of TXNIP expression induced reciprocal changes in central leptin sensitivity and the neural regulation of lipolysis. Together, these results identify a critical role for TXNIP in Agrp neurons in mediating diet-induced obesity through the regulation of energy expenditure and adipose tissue metabolism, independently of food intake. They also reveal a previously unidentified role for Agrp neurons in the brain-adipose axis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Agouti-Related Protein / genetics
  • Agouti-Related Protein / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Diet
  • Eating / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Hypothalamus / drug effects
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Leptin / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Thioredoxins / genetics
  • Thioredoxins / metabolism*


  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Blood Glucose
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Leptin
  • Txnip protein, mouse
  • Thioredoxins