Editorial overview: gastrointestinal regulatory peptides

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The gastrointestinal tract represents the largest endocrine organ in the human body and interfaces directly with important facets of our environment [1–3]. Enteroendocrine cells (EEC) are scattered along the mucosal epithelium of the entire luminal gastrointestinal tract but do not form distinct glands [2–4]. These EEC secrete a large variety of gastrointestinal peptides and other molecules that communicate with their target cells via paracrine, endocrine, neurocrine, and autocrine routes [1,4–7] and binding to specific cell surface receptor. Several digestive functions, including hormone release, enzyme secretion, gut motility, satiety and appetite behavior, and energy homeostasis are regulated by gastrointestinal peptides [1,4,5,7].

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