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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2015 Dec 15;418 Pt 2:108-19. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2015.08.022. Epub 2015 Aug 24.

A talk between fat tissue, gut, pancreas and brain to control body weight.

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Department of Physiology, Monash Obesity & Diabetes Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia.
Department of Physiology, Monash Obesity & Diabetes Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia. Electronic address:


The incidence of obesity and its related disorders are increasing at a rate of pandemic proportions. Understanding the mechanisms behind the maintenance of energy balance is fundamental in developing treatments for clinical syndromes including obesity and diabetes. A neural network located in the nucleus of the solitary tract-area postrema complex in the hindbrain and the hypothalamus in the forebrain has long been implicated in the control of energy balance. In the hypothalamus this central neuronal network consists of small populations of nuclei with distinct functions such as the arcuate nucleus (ARH), the paraventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus (PVH), the dorsomedial (DMH), the ventromedial (VMH) and the lateral hypothalamus (LH). These hypothalamic areas form interconnected neuronal circuits that respond to fluctuations in energy status by altering the expression of neuropeptides, leading to changes in energy intake and expenditure. Regulation of these hypothalamic nuclei involves the actions of orexigenic peptides (ie ghrelin), which act to stimulate energy intake and decrease energy expenditure, and anorexigenic peptides (ie. leptin and insulin), which act to reduce energy intake and stimulate energy expenditure. Here we review the role of the ARH, DMH and PVH in the control of energy homeostasis and how recent advances in research technologies (Cre-loxP technology, optogenetics and pharmacogenetics) have shed light on the role of these hypothalamic nuclei in the control of energy balance. Such novel findings include the implication of ARH POMC and AgRP neurons in the browning of white adipose tissue to regulate energy expenditure as well as the likely existence of divergent hypothalamic pathways in the DMH and PVH in the control of food intake and energy expenditure.


Body weight regulation; Food intake; Ghrelin; Insulin; Leptin; Melanocortin neurons

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