The critical role of CCK in the regulation of food intake and diet-induced obesity

Peptides. 2021 Apr:138:170492. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2020.170492. Epub 2021 Jan 8.


In 1973, Gibbs, Young, and Smith showed that exogenous cholecystokinin (CCK) administration reduces food intake in rats. This initial report has led to thousands of studies investigating the physiological role of CCK in regulating feeding behavior. CCK is released from enteroendocrine I cells present along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. CCK binding to its receptor CCK1R leads to vagal afferent activation providing post-ingestive feedback to the hindbrain. Vagal afferent neurons' (VAN) sensitivity to CCK is modulated by energy status while CCK signaling regulates gene expression of other feeding related signals and receptors expressed by VAN. In addition to its satiation effects, CCK acts all along the GI tract to optimize digestion and nutrient absorption. Diet-induced obesity (DIO) is characterized by reduced sensitivity to CCK and every part of the CCK system is negatively affected by chronic intake of energy-dense foods. EEC have recently been shown to adapt to diet, CCK1R is affected by dietary fats consumption, and the VAN phenotypic flexibility is lost in DIO. Altered endocannabinoid tone, changes in gut microbiota composition, and chronic inflammation are currently being explored as potential mechanisms for diet driven loss in CCK signaling. This review discusses our current understanding of how CCK controls food intake in conditions of leanness and how control is lost in chronic energy excess and obesity, potentially perpetuating excessive intake.

Keywords: CCK1R; Cholecystokinin; Diet-induced obesity; Gut microbiota; Vagal afferent neurons.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholecystokinin / biosynthesis
  • Cholecystokinin / genetics*
  • Cholecystokinin / pharmacology
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Eating / genetics*
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism
  • Neurons, Afferent / pathology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Cholecystokinin A / genetics*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Receptor, Cholecystokinin A
  • Cholecystokinin