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Keywords:

  • gut hormones;
  • appetite;
  • hypothalamus;
  • brain stem;
  • vagus nerve;
  • ghrelin;
  • peptide YY;
  • pancreatic polypeptide;
  • glucagon-like peptide-1;
  • oxyntomodulin;
  • cholecystokinin;
  • obesity

The gastrointestinal tract is the largest endocrine organ in the body. It secretes more than 20 different peptide hormones, which serve both a local regulatory function and provide a means by which the gut can regulate appetite and satiety. As the worldwide prevalence of obesity reaches epidemic proportions, the importance of delineating the mechanisms which regulate food intake becomes even more urgent. There is now a substantial body of work in both rodent and human models demonstrating the effects of these peptides on appetite and work is underway to therapeutically manipulate the gut-brain axis for the treatment of obesity. In addition, it may also be possible to use our understanding of the entero-endocrine system to treat calorie-deficient states.