Hormonal Interactions Between Gut and Brain

Discov Med. 2010 Dec;10(55):543-52.


No truly effective drugs exist to treat obesity, which is reaching pandemic proportions. The search for new treatments has led to an interest into the homeostatic system of central appetite regulation. Key components of this system include the hypothalamus and brainstem, the gut, and adipose tissue. It is now recognized that food intake leads to the release of various gut hormones. There are several anorectic (appetite suppressing) gut hormones released, including cholecystokinin, glucagon like peptide-1, oxyntomodulin, peptide tyrosine tyrosine, and pancreatic polypeptide. To date, only one example is known of an orexigenic (appetite stimulating) hormone, ghrelin. These hormones circulate in the blood and signal via vagal nerve afferents to communicate with the hypothalamus and brainstem. This information is integrated and processed in key hypothalamic nuclei. The arcuate nucleus appears to be a central controller of the appetite circuit, integrating both peripheral and central signals. This information is translated into downstream signals affecting body metabolism and food intake. Increased understanding and successful manipulation of this system should enable the design of a successful and much needed anti-obesity treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite Regulation / physiology*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Gastrointestinal Hormones