Regulation of substrate utilization and adiposity by Agrp neurons

Nat Commun. 2019 Jan 18;10(1):311. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-08239-x.


The type of nutrient utilized by the organism at any given time-substrate utilization-is a critical component of energy metabolism. The neuronal mechanisms involved in the regulation of substrate utilization in mammals are largely unknown. Here, we found that activation of hypothalamic Agrp neurons rapidly altered whole-body substrate utilization, increasing carbohydrate utilization, while decreasing fat utilization. These metabolic changes occurred even in the absence of caloric ingestion and were coupled to increased lipogenesis. Accordingly, inhibition of fatty acid synthase-a key enzyme that mediates lipogenesis-blunted the effects of Agrp neuron activation on substrate utilization. In pair-fed conditions during positive energy balance, activation of Agrp neurons improved metabolic efficiency, and increased weight gain and adiposity. Conversely, ablation of Agrp neurons impaired fat mass accumulation. These results suggest Agrp neurons regulate substrate utilization, contributing to lipogenesis and fat mass accumulation during positive energy balance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Agouti-Related Protein / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Lipogenesis / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Weight Gain / physiology


  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Capsaicin