The integrative role of CNS fuel-sensing mechanisms in energy balance and glucose regulation

Annu Rev Physiol. 2008;70:513-35. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.70.120806.095256.


The incidences of both obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus are rising at epidemic proportions. Despite this, the balance between caloric intake and expenditure is tremendously accurate under most circumstances. Growing evidence suggests that nutrient and hormonal signals converge and directly act on brain centers, leading to changes in fuel metabolism and, thus, stable body weight over time. Growing evidence also suggests that these same signals act on the central nervous system (CNS) to regulate glucose metabolism independently. We propose that this is not coincidental and that the CNS responds to peripheral signals to orchestrate changes in both energy and glucose homeostasis. In this way the CNS ensures that the nutrient demands of peripheral tissues (and likely of the brain itself) are being met. Consequently, dysfunction of the ability of the CNS to integrate fuel-sensing signals may underlie the etiology of metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Blood Glucose