The central nervous system sites mediating the orexigenic actions of ghrelin

Annu Rev Physiol. 2014;76:519-33. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-021113-170310. Epub 2013 Oct 2.


The peptide hormone ghrelin is important for both homeostatic and hedonic eating behaviors, and its orexigenic actions occur mainly via binding to the only known ghrelin receptor, the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR). GHSRs are located in several distinct regions of the central nervous system. This review discusses those central nervous system sites that have been found to play critical roles in the orexigenic actions of ghrelin, including hypothalamic nuclei, the hippocampus, the amygdala, the caudal brain stem, and midbrain dopaminergic neurons. Hopefully, this review can be used as a stepping stone for the reader wanting to gain a clearer understanding of the central nervous system sites of direct ghrelin action on feeding behavior, and as inspiration for future studies to provide an even-more-detailed map of the neurocircuitry controlling eating and body weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Eating / physiology
  • Eating / psychology
  • Ghrelin / pharmacology*
  • Ghrelin / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiology
  • Limbic System / physiology
  • Mesencephalon / physiology
  • Receptors, Ghrelin / metabolism
  • Reward
  • Rhombencephalon / physiology


  • Ghrelin
  • Receptors, Ghrelin
  • Dopamine