Gut hormones: implications for the treatment of obesity

Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Oct;124(1):44-56. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2009.06.005. Epub 2009 Jun 26.


Bariatric surgery is the only effective treatment for patients with morbid obesity. This is no solution to the present obesity pandemic however. Currently licensed non-surgical pharmaceuticals are of limited efficacy and alternatives are needed. Harnessing the body's own appetite-regulating signals is a desirable pharmacological strategy. The gastrointestinal tract has a prime role in sensing and signalling food intake to the brain. Gut hormones are key mediators of this information, including: peptide YY (PYY), pancreatic polypeptide (PP), glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), oxyntomodulin (OXM), ghrelin, amylin and cholecystokinin (CCK). This review summarises the latest knowledge regarding the physiological and pathophysiological role of gut hormones in regulating our food intake and how this knowledge could guide, or has guided, the development of weight-loss drugs. Up-to-date outcomes of clinical trials are evaluated and directions for the future suggested.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / physiology
  • Amyloid / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Cholecystokinin / physiology
  • Cholecystokinin / therapeutic use
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Ghrelin / physiology
  • Ghrelin / therapeutic use
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / physiology
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Oxyntomodulin / physiology
  • Oxyntomodulin / therapeutic use
  • Pancreatic Polypeptide / physiology
  • Pancreatic Polypeptide / therapeutic use
  • Peptide YY / physiology
  • Peptide YY / therapeutic use


  • Amyloid
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones
  • Ghrelin
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Oxyntomodulin
  • Peptide YY
  • Pancreatic Polypeptide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Cholecystokinin