KO's and organisation of peptidergic feeding behavior mechanisms

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2001 Mar;25(2):143-58. doi: 10.1016/s0149-7634(01)00003-3.


Feeding behavior results from complex interactions arising between numerous neuromediators, including classical neurotransmitters and neuropeptides present in hypothalamic networks. One way to unravel these complex mechanisms is to examine animal models with a deletion of genes coding for the different neuropeptides involved in the regulation of feeding. The aim of this review is to focus on feeding and body weight regulation in mice lacking neuropeptide Y (NPY), melanocortins (POMC), corticotropin-releasing hormone, melanin-concentrating hormone, or bombesin-like peptides respectively. The phenotypes, which relate to the deletion of gene coding for the peptides, rarely include changes in body weight and food intake, indicating therefore the existence of redundant mechanisms to compensate for the loss of the peptide. The phenotype is much more marked when the gene deletion is targeted towards the functioning of the peptidergic machinery, e.g. the receptors and especially the POMC and NPY receptors, as well as one subtype of bombesin receptor (BRS-3). These knockout models are also interesting when examining the role of environmental and social factors in the determination of feeding behavior. They have granted us better knowledge of all these integrated and complex mechanisms. Moreover, they are also valuable tools for pharmacological studies when specific antagonists are lacking. From the information obtained by the study of knockouts, it is possible to determine certain targets for selective drugs that could be efficient for the pharmacological treatment of obesity. However, at the present state of our knowledge, it seems necessary to target several peptides in order to get good results with weight loss. It will also be imperative to associate these multitherapies with changes in eating and behavioral habits, in order to obtain complete effectiveness and long-lasting results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout / physiology
  • Mice, Knockout / psychology*
  • Neuropeptides / physiology*


  • Neuropeptides