BDNF and the central control of feeding: accidental bystander or essential player?

Trends Neurosci. 2013 Feb;36(2):83-90. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2012.12.009. Epub 2013 Jan 18.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor