Body weight is regulated by the brain: A link between feeding and emotion

T. Kishi, J. K. Elmquist

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Regulated energy homeostasis is fundamental for maintaining life. Unfortunately, this critical process is affected in a high number of mentally ill patients. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are prevalent in modern societies. Impaired appetite and weight loss are common in patients with depression. In addition, the use of neuroleptics frequently produces obesity and diabetes mellitus. However, the neural mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of these behavioral and metabolic conditions are largely unknown. In this review, we first concentrate on the established brain machinery of food intake and body weight, especially on the melanocortin and neuropeptide Y (NPY) systems as illustration. These systems play a critical role in receiving and processing critical peripheral metabolic cues such as leptin and ghrelin. It is also notable that both systems modulate emotion and motivated behavior as well. Secondly, we discuss the significance and potential promise of multidisciplinary molecular and neuroanatomic techniques that will likely increase the understanding of brain circuitries coordinating energy homeostasis and emotion. Finally, we introduce several lines of evidence suggesting a link between the melanocortin/NPY systems and several neurotransmitter systems on which many of the psychotropic agents exert their influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-146
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Amines
  • Amino-acid transmitters
  • Emotion
  • Energy homeostasis
  • Hypothalamus
  • Leptin
  • Melanocortin
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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