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The new biology of body weight regulation.

Review article
Schwartz MW, et al. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997.

Abstract

A growing body of evidence suggests that energy balance (the difference between energy intake and expenditure) and body fuel stores in the form of adipose tissue are maintained by the body within a narrow range. This regulation of adiposity is mediated by the secretion of hormonal signals into the circulation in proportion to body adipose stores and their subsequent actions on brain systems that control caloric intake and energy expenditure. As a result, changes in energy balance sufficient to alter fuel stores elicit compensatory changes in energy intake and expenditure that return fat stores to their regulated level. Recent scientific break-through have identified the key components of this physiologic system. These include the circulating signals, leptin (the hormone encoded by the ob gene that is secreted by fat cells) and the pancreatic hormone insulin; and brain peptides such as neuropeptide Y, which is released from nerve terminals in the hypothalamus to elicit changes in feeding behavior and energy expenditure that mediate adaptive changes in energy balance. This article reviews the discovery of leptin and its receptor and discusses the interaction of leptin and insulin with the hypothalamic neuropeptide Y system. These observations provide a basis for understanding how weight lost during a period of negative energy balance (because of the inability to consume and/or store sufficient energy to meet ongoing energy demands) is eventually recovered. As our understanding of this weight-regulatory system increases, new insights into the causes of human obesity are likely to follow. Such insights may yield improvements in the medical and nutrition management of obese patients.

PMID

8990418 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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