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Gastrointestinal satiety signals I. An overview of gastrointestinal signals that influence food intake.

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  • 1Dept. of Psychiatry, Univ. of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA.


An overview is presented of those signals generated by the gastrointestinal (GI) tract during meals that interact with the central nervous system to create a sensation of fullness and satiety. Although dozens of enzymes, hormones, and other factors are secreted by the GI tract in response to food in the lumen, only a handful are able to influence food intake directly. Most of these cause meals to terminate and hence are called satiety signals, with CCK being the most investigated. Only one GI signal, ghrelin, that increases meal size has been identified. The administration of exogenous CCK or other satiety signals causes smaller meals to be consumed, whereas blocking the action of endogenous CCK or other satiety signals causes larger meals to be consumed. Satiety signals are relayed to the hindbrain, either indirectly via nerves such as the vagus from the GI tract or else directly via the blood. Most factors that influence how much food is eaten during individual meals act by changing the sensitivity to satiety signals. This includes adiposity signals as well as habits and learning, the social situation, and stressors.

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