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Keywords:

  • Appetite;
  • gut peptides

Summary

There is a growing worldwide epidemic of obesity. Obese people have a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and hence present increasing social, financial and health burdens. Weight loss is always difficult to achieve through lifestyle changes alone, and currently licensed anti-obesity drug treatments, such as orlistat and sibutramine, if tolerated, only achieve modest weight loss. Therefore, there is a need to identify more potent pharmacological targets. In the last 10 years, discoveries of new hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, together with greater understanding of previously described hormones such as cholecystokinin (CCK), pancreatic polypeptide (PP), peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), have led to a rapid increase in our knowledge of the regulation of energy balance. Among the most important factors, controlling appetite and satiety are peptide hormones released from the gut. In this paper, we provide a full up-to-date overview of the current state of knowledge of this field, together with the potential of these peptides as drugs, or as other therapeutic targets, in the treatment of obesity. Finally, we propose an integrated model to describe the complex interplay of these hormones in the broader physiology of energy balance.