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Agouti-related protein (AgRP) is a key orexigenic neuropeptide expressed in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus and a marker for neurons conveying hormonal signals of hunger to the brain. Mice homozygous for the anorexia (anx) mutation are characterized by decreased food intake, starvation, and death by 3-5 weeks of age. At this stage immunoreactivity for AgRP is increased in cell bodies but decreased in the nerve terminals. We studied when during early postnatal development the aberrant phenotype of the AgRP system becomes apparent in anx/anx mice and possible underlying mechanisms. AgRP and ionized calcium binding adapter molecule (Iba1), a marker for activated microglia, as well as Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR-2), were studied by immunohistochemistry at postnatal days P1, P5, P10, P12, P15 and P21 in anx/anx and wild-type mice. We found that the AgRP system in the anx/anx mouse develops similarly to the wild type until P12, when AgRP fibers in anx/anx mice cease to increase in density in the main projection areas. At P21, AgRP fiber density in anx/anx mice was significantly reduced vs. P15, in certain regions. At P21, many strongly AgRP-positive cell bodies were observed in the anx/anx arcuate nucleus vs. only few and weakly fluorescent ones in the wild type. The decrease in AgRP fiber density in anx/anx mice overlapped with an increase in Iba1 and TLR-2 immunoreactivities. Thus, the aberrant appearance of the AgRP system in the anx/anx mouse in the early postnatal development could involve a microglia-associated process and the innate immune system. Copyright 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Ida Nilsson, Charlotte Lindfors, Sergueï O Fetissov, Tomas Hökfelt, Jeanette E Johansen. Aberrant agouti-related protein system in the hypothalamus of the anx/anx mouse is associated with activation of microglia. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2008 Mar 1;507(1):1128-40

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PMID: 18098136

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