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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 May;67(5):455-61. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.73.

Control of protein and energy intake - brain mechanisms.

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AgroParisTech, CRNH-IdF, UMR914 Nutrition Physiology and Ingestive Behavior, Paris, France.


The protein content of the diet has long been investigated for its influence on food behavior. High-protein diets promote satiety and reduce calorie intake, whereas results for low-protein diets are more contradictory and less established. Protein sensing might take place in the oral cavity or in the post-oral gastrointestinal tract, where specific receptors have been found. Protein signaling to the brain may act through the vagal nerve and involve gastric hormones, such as cholecystokinin and peptide YY. Other pathways are post-absorptive signaling and the direct influence of brain levels of amino acids. High-protein diet enhances the activity of brain satiety centers, mainly the nucleus of the solitary tract and arcuate nucleus, although the activity of brain reward centers might also be modified. A better understanding of the role of both homeostatic and hedonic systems is needed to fully describe the influence of protein on food intake.

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