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Front Neuroendocrinol. 2015 Apr;37:97-107. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2014.10.003. Epub 2014 Oct 29.

Hypothalamic control of seasonal changes in food intake and body weight.

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School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham Medical School, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK. Electronic address:


Seasonal cycles of fattening and body weight reflecting changes in both food intake and energy expenditure are a core aspect of the biology of mammals that have evolved in temperate and arctic latitudes. Identifying the neuroendocrine mechanisms that underlie these cycles has provided new insights into the hypothalamic control of appetite and fuel oxidation. Surprisingly, seasonal cycles do not result from changes in the leptin-responsive and homeostatic pathways located in the mediobasal and lateral hypothalamus that regulate meal timing and compensatory responses to starvation or caloric restriction. Rather, they result from changes in tanycyte function, which locally regulates transport and metabolism of thyroid hormone and retinoic acid. These signals are crucial for the initial development of the brain, so it is hypothesized that seasonal neuroendocrine cycles reflect developmental mechanisms in the adult hypothalamus, manifest as changes in neurogenesis and plasticity of connections.


Appetite; Body weight; Food intake; Pars tuberalis; Photoperiod; Plasticity; Season; Tanycyte; Thyroid hormone

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