The L-Cell in Nutritional Sensing and the Regulation of Appetite

Front Nutr. 2015 Jul 20;2:23. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2015.00023. eCollection 2015.


The gastrointestinal (GI) tract senses the ingestion of food and responds by signaling to the brain to promote satiation and satiety. Representing an important part of the gut-brain axis, enteroendocrine L-cells secrete the anorectic peptide hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and peptide YY (PYY) in response to the ingestion of food. The release of GLP-1 has multiple effects, including the secretion of insulin from pancreatic β-cells, decreased gastric emptying, and increased satiation. PYY also slows GI motility and reduces food intake. At least part of the gut-brain response seems to be due to direct sensing of macronutrients by L-cells, by mechanisms including specific nutrient-sensing receptors. Such receptors may represent possible pathways to target to decrease appetite and increase energy expenditure. Designing drugs or functional foods to exploit the machinery of these nutrient-sensing mechanisms may offer a potential approach for agents to treat obesity and metabolic disease.

Keywords: appetite; enteroendocrine; glucagon-like peptide-1; macronutrient; peptide YY.

Publication types

  • Review