Neuroendocrine regulation of food intake

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The majority of adults in many developed countries are overweight or obese. The obesity epidemic is also affecting children worldwide. Obesity increases the risk of several diseases leading to life-threatening complications. Weight regulation depends on food intake (energy intake) and energy expenditure. The purpose of this review is to provide updated information on the neuroendocrine regulation of food intake and energy homeostasis.

Recent findings

New knowledge about the role of the prefrontal cortex in the regulation of food intake has emerged. The pathways responsible for energy homeostasis are now increasingly being understood, and as a consequence, an increasing number of pharmacologic agents targeting these pathways are being actively developed. Emphasis on the concept of long-term (as opposed to short-term) homeostasis has guided the search for therapeutic molecules or combination of molecules that would inhibit food intake constantly and thus lead to maintained weight loss.

Summary

Complex and intricate neuroendocrine pathways control food intake and energy homeostasis. The increasing understanding of the different components orchestrating the regulation of food intake provides new and exciting targets for much needed pharmacotherapy for obesity.

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