Melanocortin neurons: Multiple routes to regulation of metabolism

Wen jie Shen, Ting Yao, Xingxing Kong, Kevin W. Williams, Tiemin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The burden of disability, premature death, escalating health care costs and lost economic productivity due to obesity and its associated complications including hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes is staggering [1,2]. A better understanding of metabolic homeostatic pathways will provide us with insights into the biological mechanisms of obesity and how to fundamentally address this epidemic [3–6]. In mammals, energy balance is maintained via a homeostatic system involving both peripheral and central melanocortin systems; changes in body weight reflect an unbalance of the energetic state [7–9]. Although the primary cause of obesity is unknown, there is significant effort to understand the role of the central melanocortin pathway in the brain as it has been shown that deficiency of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) [10,11] and melanocortin 4 receptors (MC4R) [12–15] in both rodents and humans results in severe hyperphagia and obesity [16–23]. In this review, we will summarize how the central melanocortin pathway helps regulate body mass and adiposity within a ‘healthy’ range through the ‘nutrient sensing’ network [24–28]. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Melanocortin Receptors - edited by Ya-Xiong Tao.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2477-2485
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Agouti related peptide neurons
  • Central melanocortin pathway
  • Melanocortin 4 receptors
  • Metabolism
  • Proopiomelanocortin neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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