A considerable body of evidence links diminished brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling to energy balance dysregulation and severe obesity in humans and rodents. Because BDNF exhibits broad neurotrophic properties, the underpinnings of these effects and its true role in the central regulation of food intake remain topics of debate in the field. Here, I discuss recent evidence supporting a critical role for this neurotrophin in physiological mechanisms regulating nutrient intake and body weight in the mature brain. They include reports of functional interactions of BDNF with central anorexigenic and orexigenic signaling pathways and evidence of recognized appetite hormones exerting neurotrophic effects similar to those of BDNF.
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