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Regulation of appetite: role of leptin in signalling systems for drive and satiety


BACKGROUND: The healthy regulation of appetite involves a balance between excitatory (drive) and inhibitory (satiety) processes. For many years research has concentrated on the identification of signalling systems that mediate satiety to the relative exclusion of drive-inducing biological events. However, the so-called long-term regulation of body weight has recently been given substance by the identification of a chemical signal believed to link the brain with adipose tissue stores.

ANALYSIS: This signal, leptin, is in position to modulate the expression of a drive to eat. Studies on the relationship between leptin and perceived hunger, and on the eating behaviour of leptin-deficient individuals, are consistent with the intervention of leptin in a drive system. The contrast between the roles of leptin and serotonin in appetite regulation reflects the difference between drive-signalling and satiety signalling processes.

CONCLUSION: It is proposed that leptin modulates the drive signals arising from the metabolic demand for energy but also shows some properties of a post-prandial satiety signal.

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Correspondence to JE Blundell.

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Blundell, J., Goodson, S. & Halford, J. Regulation of appetite: role of leptin in signalling systems for drive and satiety. Int J Obes 25 (Suppl 1), S29–S34 (2001).

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  • satiety
  • drive
  • appetite
  • leptin
  • food intake

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