Nature 404, 661-671 (6 April 2000) | doi:10.1038/35007534

Central nervous system control of food intake

Michael W. Schwartz1, Stephen C. Woods3, Daniel Porte, Jr1, Randy J. Seeley3 & Denis G. Baskin1,2


New information regarding neuronal circuits that control food intake and their hormonal regulation has extended our understanding of energy homeostasis, the process whereby energy intake is matched to energy expenditure over time. The profound obesity that results in rodents (and in the rare human case as well) from mutation of key signalling molecules involved in this regulatory system highlights its importance to human health. Although each new signalling pathway discovered in the hypothalamus is a potential target for drug development in the treatment of obesity, the growing number of such signalling molecules indicates that food intake is controlled by a highly complex process. To better understand how energy homeostasis can be achieved, we describe a model that delineates the roles of individual hormonal and neuropeptide signalling pathways in the control of food intake and the means by which obesity can arise from inherited or acquired defects in their function.

  1. Department of Medicine, Harborview Medical Center and VA Puget Sound Health Care System, University of Washington , Seattle, Washington 98104-2499, USA
  2. Department of Biological Structure, Harborview Medical Center and VA Puget Sound Health Care System, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98104-2499 , USA
  3. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0559 , USA