Circuitries involved in the control of energy homeostasis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity

Treat Endocrinol. 2004;3(5):269-77. doi: 10.2165/00024677-200403050-00001.


The regulation of bodyweight is a complex process involving the interplay of neuronal circuitries controlling food intake and energy expenditure (thermogenesis) with endocrine secretions modulating the activity of the neurons making up those circuitries. The neurons controlling food intake and thermogenesis also modulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the role of which in the regulation of energy balance has been acknowledged for some time. These neurons secrete various neuromolecules or neuropeptides including endocannabinoids, neuropeptide Y, agouti-related protein, melanin-concentrating hormone, orexins (hypocretins), melanocortins, cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript, thyrotropin-releasing hormone, corticotropin-releasing hormone, and urocortins. Among those peptides, neuropeptide Y, agouti-related peptide, melanin-concentrating hormone, orexins, and endocannabinoids have been classified as being anabolic molecules whereas melanocortins, cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript, thyrotropin-releasing hormone, and corticotropin-releasing hormone are referred to as catabolic peptides. The expression and secretion of these neuromolecules are known to be affected by the anabolic (corticosteroids and ghrelin) and catabolic (leptin, insulin, and glucagon-like peptide 1) peripheral hormones. A link is made between the pathways regulating energy balance and those modulating the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology*