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Protein Cell. 2011 Oct;2(10):800-13. doi: 10.1007/s13238-011-1112-4. Epub 2011 Nov 6.

Expanding neurotransmitters in the hypothalamic neurocircuitry for energy balance regulation.

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Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The current epidemic of obesity and its associated metabolic syndromes impose unprecedented challenges to our society. Despite intensive research on obesity pathogenesis, an effective therapeutic strategy to treat and cure obesity is still lacking. Exciting studies in last decades have established the importance of the leptin neural pathway in the hypothalamus in the regulation of body weight homeostasis. Important hypothalamic neuropeptides have been identified as critical neurotransmitters from leptin-sensitive neurons to mediate leptin action. Recent research advance has significantly expanded the list of neurotransmitters involved in body weight-regulating neural pathways, including fast-acting neurotransmitters, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate. Given the limited knowledge on the leptin neural pathway for body weight homeostasis, understanding the function of neurotransmitters released from key neurons for energy balance regulation is essential for delineating leptin neural pathway and eventually for designing effective therapeutic drugs against the obesity epidemic.

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