Reviews To Read – September 2022.
Published in Nature Metabolism and coauthored by Ana Pamela Miranda Tapia and Yeka Aponte of the Neuronal Circuits and Behavior Section (NIDA IRP) and Ivan C. Alcantara and Michael J. Krashes of the Section on Motivational Processes Underlying Appetite (NIDDK IRP).
For decades, the prevalence of obesity has surged due to the availability and overconsumption of highly palatable foods—i.e., foods that are typically high in calories, fat, and/or sugar. The obesity epidemic has become a major worldwide health concern due to the myriad comorbidities (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis) that can arise in people with obesity, and the treatment of obesity and the ensuing comorbidities are an ongoing challenge for healthcare providers. In order to develop new therapeutics for the treatment of obesity, it is important to first understand the neurobiological basis of appetite.
In this review, we discuss the brain regions and neuronal circuits that orchestrate distinct phases of eating: food procurement, food consumption, and meal termination. While pioneering work identified several regions of the hypothalamus to be involved in feeding, more recent studies have explored how neuronal populations beyond the hypothalamus contribute to appetite modulation. We also examine how feeding circuits can be rewired by long-term exposure to highly caloric diets, altering the response of motivational systems to food. Understanding how the nervous system regulates eating behavior will aid the development of medical strategies that will help individuals to maintain a healthy body weight.