AgRP neurons encode circadian feeding time

Sayar-Atasoy N., Aklan I., Yavuz Y., Laule C., Kim H., Rysted J., ...More

Nature Neuroscience, vol.27, no.1, pp.102-115, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 27 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41593-023-01482-6
  • Journal Name: Nature Neuroscience
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Animal Behavior Abstracts, BIOSIS, Chemical Abstracts Core, MEDLINE, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.102-115
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Food intake follows a predictable daily pattern and synchronizes metabolic rhythms. Neurons expressing agouti-related protein (AgRP) read out physiological energetic state and elicit feeding, but the regulation of these neurons across daily timescales is poorly understood. Using a combination of neuron dynamics measurements and timed optogenetic activation in mice, we show that daily AgRP-neuron activity was not fully consistent with existing models of homeostatic regulation. Instead of operating as a ‘deprivation counter’, AgRP-neuron activity primarily followed the circadian rest–activity cycle through a process that required an intact suprachiasmatic nucleus and synchronization by light. Imposing novel feeding patterns through time-restricted food access or periodic AgRP-neuron stimulation was sufficient to resynchronize the daily AgRP-neuron activity rhythm and drive anticipatory-like behavior through a process that required DMHPDYN neurons. These results indicate that AgRP neurons integrate time-of-day information of past feeding experience with current metabolic needs to predict circadian feeding time.