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Cell Mol Life Sci. 1999 Oct 30;56(5-6):473-80.

The hypocretins/orexins: novel hypothalamic neuropeptides involved in different physiological systems.

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Department of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The hypothalamus regulates diverse physiological functions, including the control of energy metabolism, circadian rhythms, stress and anxiety, sexual and reproductive behaviors. An overview of the most prevalent hypothalamus-enriched mRNAs revealed that this area of the brain specializes in producing intercellular signaling molecules. Two new secreted peptides derived from a single neuropeptide precursor, named hypocretins and orexins by two different groups, are synthesized in a small set of neurons in the perifornical area of the hypothalamus. Intracerebroventricular injection of the hypocretins/orexins increases food consumption in rats. Here we review recent progress in identifying the role of the hypocretins/orexins in the control of energy balance and in other physiological systems.

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