AgRP neurons control structure and function of the medial prefrontal cortex

Mol Psychiatry. 2022 Oct;27(10):3951-3960. doi: 10.1038/s41380-022-01691-8. Epub 2022 Jul 29.


Hypothalamic agouti-related peptide and neuropeptide Y-expressing (AgRP) neurons have a critical role in both feeding and non-feeding behaviors of newborn, adolescent, and adult mice, suggesting their broad modulatory impact on brain functions. Here we show that constitutive impairment of AgRP neurons or their peripubertal chemogenetic inhibition resulted in both a numerical and functional reduction of neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of mice. These changes were accompanied by alteration of oscillatory network activity in mPFC, impaired sensorimotor gating, and altered ambulatory behavior that could be reversed by the administration of clozapine, a non-selective dopamine receptor antagonist. The observed AgRP effects are transduced to mPFC in part via dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area and may also be conveyed by medial thalamic neurons. Our results unmasked a previously unsuspected role for hypothalamic AgRP neurons in control of neuronal pathways that regulate higher-order brain functions during development and in adulthood.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Agouti-Related Protein / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neuropeptide Y* / metabolism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism


  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Neuropeptide Y