Protein sufficiency is tightly controlled through different sensing and signaling processes that modulate and adapt protein and energy metabolism and feeding behavior to reach and maintain a well-balanced protein status. High-protein diets, often discussed in the context of body weight management, usually activate anorexigenic pathways, leading to higher satiety, decreased food and energy intake, and decreased body weight and adiposity. Diets marginally low in protein (3-8% energy) or marginally deficient in some indispensable amino acid more often activate orexigenic pathways, with higher appetite and a specific appetite for protein, a response that leads to an increase in protein intake to partially compensate for the deficit in protein and amino acid. Diets severely deficient in protein (2-3% energy as protein) usually depress food intake and induce lower weight and lower fat mass and lean tissues that characterize a status of protein deficiency. The control of protein sufficiency involves various peripheral and central signals, including modulation of both metabolic pathways at the periphery as well as central pathways of the control of food and protein intake, including a reward-driven specific sensitivity to the protein content of foods.
Keywords: FGF21; feeding behavior; protein; reward.