Galanin/GALP and galanin receptors: role in central control of feeding, body weight/obesity and reproduction?

Eur J Pharmacol. 2002 Apr 12;440(2-3):255-68. doi: 10.1016/s0014-2999(02)01433-4.


Scientific and commercial pharmacological interest in the role of galanin and galanin receptors in the regulation of food intake, energy balance, and obesity has waned recently, following initial enthusiasm during the 1980-1990s. It has been replaced by efforts to understand the role of newly discovered peptide systems such as the hypocretin/orexins, melanocortins and cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) and their relationship to the important hormones, leptin and insulin. Thus, while numerous studies have revealed the ability of galanin to stimulate food intake via actions at sites within the hypothalamus, and shown reliable changes in hypothalamic galanin synthesis in response to food ingestion; findings including the lack of a 'body weight/obesity' phenotype in galanin transgenic mouse strains and a lack of agonists/antagonists for galanin receptor subtypes have probably served to reduce enthusiasm. However, as more is learnt about the general and galanin-related neurochemistry of brain pathways involved in feeding, metabolism and body weight control, the potential importance of galanin systems is again in focus. Studies of the newly discovered galanin family peptide, 'galanin-like peptide' (GALP), highlight the likely role of galanin peptides and receptors in the physiological coupling of body weight, adiposity and reproductive function. GALP is produced by a discrete population of neurons within the basomedial arcuate nucleus (and median eminence) that send projections to the anterior paraventricular nucleus and that make close contacts with leutinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) neurons in basal forebrain. Furthermore, GALP neurons express leptin receptors and respond to leptin treatment by increasing their expression of GALP mRNA. Centrally administered GALP activates LHRH-immunoreactive neurons and increases plasma LH levels. These findings suggest a direct stimulatory action of endogenous GALP on gonadotropin secretion via actions within the hypothalamus/basal forebrain, with leptin actions linking this system to body adipose levels.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Eating / physiology
  • Galanin / genetics
  • Galanin / pharmacology
  • Galanin / physiology*
  • Galanin-Like Peptide
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / pharmacology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Receptors, Galanin
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Galanin-Like Peptide
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Galanin
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • Galanin