Role of central serotonin and melanocortin systems in the control of energy balance

Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Jun 11;660(1):70-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2010.12.024. Epub 2011 Jan 7.


Body weight homeostasis is critically dependent upon the convergence and integration of multiple central and peripheral signalling systems that collectively function to detect and elicit physiological and behavioural responses to nutritional state. To date, only a minority of these signals have been pharmacologically targeted for the treatment of human obesity. One signal that has been effectively manipulated to reduce body weight is the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT); however, the relevant downstream signalling pathways are incompletely understood. Recently, the melanocortin system, a nexus for multiple modulators of energy balance, has emerged as one key mediator of serotonin's effects on appetite. Here we review the serotonin and melanocortin systems with reference to their roles in energy balance and discuss the evidence that the two systems are functionally linked.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Melanocortins / metabolism*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Serotonin / biosynthesis
  • Serotonin / metabolism*


  • Melanocortins
  • Serotonin