Selective tissue uptake of agouti-related protein(82-131) and its modulation by fasting

Weihong Pan, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 70808, USA.
Abba J. Kastin
Yongmei Yu
Courtney M. Cain
Tammy Fairburn
Adrian M. Stütz
Christopher Morrison
George Argyropoulos


The blood concentration of agouti-related protein (AgRP), a protein related to hyperphagia and obesity, is increased in obese human and fasted lean subjects. Because there is no saturable transport system at the blood-brain barrier for circulating AgRP to reach its central nervous system target, uptake of AgRP by peripheral organs might be physiologically meaningful. Using the biologically active fragment AgRP(82-131), we determined the pharmacokinetics of its radioactively labeled tracer after iv bolus injection and compared it with that of the vascular marker albumin. AgRP enters peripheral organs at different influx rates, all of which were higher than into brain and spinal cord. At 10 min after iv injection, the radioactivity recovered in the liver, which had the fastest influx rate for AgRP, represented intact (125)I-AgRP. The adrenal gland had a moderately fast uptake (but the highest initial volume of distribution), followed by the heart, lungs, and skeletal muscle. By comparison, epididymal fat, testis, and pancreas had low permeability to AgRP. Saturation of influx was determined by coadministration of excess unlabeled AgRP and was shown to be present in the liver and adrenal gland. The influx rate and initial volume of distribution did not show a linear correlation with vascular permeability or regional blood flow. AgRP uptake by the liver and epididymal fat was significantly increased by overnight fasting, whereas that by the adrenal gland was significantly decreased in fasted mice. Thus, the differential uptake of AgRP by peripheral organs could be a regulated process that is modulated by food deprivation.