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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2001 Mar;25(2):101-16.

Hypothalamic neuropeptide mechanisms for regulating energy balance: from rodent models to human obesity.

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  • 1Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen Centre for Energy Regulation and Obesity (ACERO), Bucksburn, AB21 9SB, Aberdeen, UK.


In small rodents there is compelling evidence of a lipostatic system of body mass regulation in which peripheral signals of energy storage are decoded in the hypothalamus. The ability of small mammals to defend an appropriate mass against imposed energy imbalance has implicated hypothalamic neuroendocrine systems in body mass regulation. The effect of the neuropeptide systems involved in this regulation is primarily compensatory. However, small mammals can also effect changes in the level of body mass that they will defend, as exemplified by seasonal species. Regulatory control over fat mass may be relatively loose in humans; the sizes of long-term storage depots may not themselves be regulated, but rather may be a consequence of temporal variations in the matching of supply and demand. Whether food intake is regulated to match energy demand, or to match demand and to regulate storage, it is clear that physiological defects or genetic variation in hypothalamic and peripheral feedback systems will have profound implications for fat storage. Study of mechanisms implicated in energy homeostasis in laboratory rodents is likely to continue to identify targets for pharmacological manipulation in the management of human obesity.

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