Psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, are associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), however, the neural mechanisms regulating this comorbidity are unknown. Here, we show that hypothalamic agouti-related protein (AgRP) neuronal activity is suppressed under chronic restraint stress (CRS), a condition known to increase anxiety and colitis susceptibility. Consistently, chemogenic activation or inhibition of AgRP neurons reverses or mimics CRS-induced increase of anxiety-like behaviors and colitis susceptibility, respectively. Furthermore, CRS inhibits AgRP neuronal activity by suppressing the expression of c-Jun. Moreover, overexpression of c-Jun in these neurons protects against the CRS-induced effects, and knockdown of c-Jun in AgRP neurons (c-Jun) promotes anxiety and colitis susceptibility. Finally, the levels of secreted protein thrombospondin 1 (THBS1) are negatively associated with increased anxiety and colitis, and supplementing recombinant THBS1 rescues colitis susceptibility in c-Jun mice. Taken together, these results reveal critical roles of hypothalamic AgRP neuron-derived c-Jun in orchestrating stress-induced anxiety and colitis susceptibility.© 2023. The Author(s).
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