Neuronal systems and circuits involved in the control of food intake and adaptive thermogenesis

Alexandre Caron, Denis Richard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


With the still-growing prevalence of obesity worldwide, major efforts are made to understand the various behavioral, environmental, and genetic factors that promote excess fat gain. Obesity results from an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure, which emphasizes the importance of deciphering the mechanisms behind energy balance regulation to understand its physiopathology. The control of energy balance is assured by brain systems/circuits capable of generating adequate ingestive and thermogenic responses to maintain the stability of energy reserves, which implies a proper integration of the homeostatic signals that inform about the status of the energy stores. In this article, we overview the organization and functionality of key neuronal circuits or pathways involved in the control of food intake and energy expenditure. We review the role of the corticolimbic (executive and reward) and autonomic systems that integrate their activities to regulate energy balance. We also describe the mechanisms and pathways whereby homeostatic sensing is achieved in response to variations of homeostatic hormones, such as leptin, insulin, and ghrelin, while putting some emphasis on the prominent importance of the mechanistic target of the rapamycin signaling pathway in coordinating the homeostatic sensing process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-53
Number of pages19
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • energy balance
  • executive
  • hypothalamus
  • melanocortin
  • reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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