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Mol Neurobiol. 2007 Feb;35(1):1-20.

Molecular signaling involved in regulating feeding and other motivated behaviors.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, TAMU 3258, College Station, TX, USA.


The metabolic and nutritional status of an organism influences multiple behaviors in addition to food intake. When an organism is hungry, it employs behaviors that help it locate and ingest food while suppressing behaviors that are not associated with this goal. Alternatively, when an organism is satiated, food-seeking behaviors are repressed so that the animal can direct itself to other goal-oriented tasks such as reproductive behaviors. Studies in both vertebrate and invertebrate model systems have revealed that food-deprived and -satiated behaviors are differentially executed and integrated via common molecular signaling mechanisms. This article discusses cellular and molecular mechanisms for how insulin, neuropeptide Y (NPY), and serotonin utilize common signaling pathways to integrate feeding and metabolic state with other motivated behaviors. Insulin, NPY, and serotonin are three of the most well-studied molecules implicated in regulating such behaviors. Overall, insulin signaling allows an organism to coordinate proper behavioral output with changes in metabolism, NPY activates behaviors required for locating and ingesting food, and serotonin modulates behaviors performed when an organism is satiated. These three molecules work to ensure that the proper behaviors are executed in response to the feeding state of an organism.

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