Microbial metabolites and the vagal afferent pathway in the control of food intake

Physiol Behav. 2021 Oct 15:240:113555. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2021.113555. Epub 2021 Aug 8.


The gut microbiota is able to influence overall energy balance via effects on both energy intake and expenditure, and is a peripheral target for potential obesity therapies. However, the precise mechanism by which the gut microbiota influences energy intake and body weight regulation is not clear. Microbes use small molecules to communicate with each other; some of these molecules are ligands at mammalian receptors and this may be a mechanism by which microbes communicate with the host. Here we briefly review the literature showing beneficial effects of microbial metabolites on food intake regulation and examine the potential role for vagal afferent neurons, the gut-brain axis.

Keywords: Kynurenine pathway; Microbial metabolites; Short chain fatty acids; Tryptophan; Vagal afferent neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways
  • Animals
  • Eating
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Neurons, Afferent
  • Vagus Nerve*