The many faces of insulin-like peptide signalling in the brain

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012 Mar 20;13(4):225-39. doi: 10.1038/nrn3209.


Central and peripheral insulin-like peptides (ILPs), which include insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) and IGF2, exert many effects in the brain. Through their actions on brain growth and differentiation, ILPs contribute to building circuitries that subserve metabolic and behavioural adaptation to internal and external cues of energy availability. In the adult brain each ILP has distinct effects, but together their actions ultimately regulate energy homeostasis - they affect nutrient sensing and regulate neuronal plasticity to modulate adaptive behaviours involved in food seeking, including high-level cognitive operations such as spatial memory. In essence, the multifaceted activity of ILPs in the brain may be viewed as a system organization involved in the control of energy allocation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism


  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II