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J Comp Neurol. 2005 Dec 5;493(1):63-71.

Identifying hypothalamic pathways controlling food intake, body weight, and glucose homeostasis.

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Department of Medicine and Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The past decade has greatly increased our understanding and appreciation of the ability of the central nervous system (CNS) to regulate food intake and body weight. This was spearheaded by the discovery of key molecules regulating body weight homeostasis. It is now also apparent that the CNS, especially the hypothalamus, plays a primary role in directly regulating glucose homeostasis, independently of effects on body weight. These discoveries are important given the increasing incidences of obesity and type II diabetes in Western societies. In this article, we will highlight recent data from genetically modified mice. These data and other models have helped to dissect the CNS pathways regulating body weight and glucose homeostasis. Finally, although these studies have been illustrative, they also underscore our relative lack of knowledge and highlight the need for more definitive approaches to unravel the functional significance of these pathways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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