The prevalence of obesity and the associated comorbidities highlight the importance of understanding the regulation of energy homeostasis. The central melanocortin system plays a critical role in controlling body weight balance. Melanocortin neurons sense and integrate the neuronal and hormonal signals, and then send regulatory projections, releasing anorexigenic or orexigenic melanocortin neuropeptides, to downstream neurons to regulate the food intake and energy expenditure. This review summarizes the latest progress in our understanding of the role of the melanocortin pathway in energy homeostasis. We also review the advances in the identification of human genetic variants that cause obesity via mechanisms that affect the central melanocortin system, which have provided rational targets for treatment of genetically susceptible patients.
Keywords: melanocortin; neurons; obesity.
© The Author(s) (2020). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, IBCB, SIBS, CAS.