Lipopolysacharide Rapidly and Completely Suppresses AgRP Neuron-Mediated Food Intake in Male Mice

Endocrinology. 2016 Jun;157(6):2380-92. doi: 10.1210/en.2015-2081. Epub 2016 Apr 25.


Although Agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons play a key role in the regulation of food intake, their contribution to the anorexia caused by proinflammatory insults has yet to be identified. Using a combination of neuroanatomical and pharmacogenetics experiments, this study sought to investigate the importance of AgRP neurons and downstream targets in the anorexia caused by the peripheral administration of a moderate dose of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (100 μg/kg, ip). First, in the C57/Bl6 mouse, we demonstrated that LPS induced c-fos in select AgRP-innervated brain sites involved in feeding but not in any arcuate proopiomelanocortin neurons. Double immunohistochemistry further showed that LPS selectively induced c-Fos in a large subset of melanocortin 4 receptor-expressing neurons in the lateral parabrachial nucleus. Secondly, we used pharmacogenetics to stimulate the activity of AgRP neurons during the course of LPS-induced anorexia. In AgRP-Cre mice expressing the designer receptor hM3Dq-Gq only in AgRP neurons, the administration of the designer drug clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) induced robust food intake. Strikingly, CNO-mediated food intake was rapidly and completely blunted by the coadministration of LPS. Neuroanatomical experiments further indicated that LPS did not interfere with the ability of CNO to stimulate c-Fos in AgRP neurons. In summary, our findings combined together support the view that the stimulation of select AgRP-innervated brain sites and target neurons, rather than the inhibition of AgRP neurons themselves, is likely to contribute to the rapid suppression of food intake observed during acute bacterial endotoxemia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Agouti-Related Protein / genetics
  • Agouti-Related Protein / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / drug effects
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Eating / drug effects*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin / genetics
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / genetics
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / metabolism


  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin