Regulation of food intake by gastrointestinal hormones

Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2006 Nov;22(6):626-31. doi: 10.1097/01.mog.0000245537.43142.63.


Purpose of review: Complex physiological mechanisms have evolved to control food intake in mammals, which in health ensure the relative stability of body weight in adults. Central brain centres, gut-derived peptides and adipose-derived signals result in an integrative response to defend against starvation. Enteroendocrine cells throughout the gut and pancreas secrete a number of peptides with activity on gut motility, gut secretions and appetite. Understanding the interactions between different gut peptides has produced a rewardingly active research field with many unanswered questions.

Recent findings: Many gut peptides are now in translational research programmes to investigate their potential in human physiology and disease. Ghrelin has been shown in short-term human studies to both increase appetite and body weight. Oxyntomodulin has been shown to reduce weight and food intake in a 4 week study in humans. Anorectic activity of peptide YY(3-36) has been confirmed in a number of animal models. Obestatin has been identified as a novel gut peptide. Increasing evidence points to the effect of gastric-bypass surgery on body weight, including alteration of gut peptide activity.

Summary: Gut peptides, or gut-peptide mimetics, show great promise for use as therapeutic agents for the treatment of obesity and cachexia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite Regulation / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control


  • Gastrointestinal Hormones