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Physiol Behav. 2007 Jul 24;91(4):413-23. Epub 2007 Apr 12.

The sensory circumventricular organs: brain targets for circulating signals controlling ingestive behavior.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada.


Sensory circumventricular organs (CVOs) are specialized areas of the brain that lack a normal blood-brain barrier, and therefore are in constant contact with signaling molecules circulating in the bloodstream. Neurons of the CVOs are well endowed with a wide spectrum of receptors for hormones and other signaling molecules, and they have strong connections to hypothalamic and brainstem nuclei. Therefore, lying at the blood-brain interface, the sensory CVOs are in a unique position of being able to detect and integrate humoral and neural information and relay the resulting signals to autonomic control centers of the hypothalamus and medulla. This review focuses primarily on the roles played by the sensory CVOs in fluid balance and energy metabolism.

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