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Papers of the Week

2021 Feb 18


The Role of Central Neurotensin in Regulating Feeding and Body Weight.


Ramirez-Virella J, Leinninger GM
Endocrinology. 2021 Feb 18.
PMID: 33599716.


The small peptide Neurotensin (Nts) is implicated in myriad processes including analgesia, thermoregulation, reward, arousal, blood pressure and modulation of feeding and body weight. Alterations in Nts have recently been described in individuals with obesity or eating disorders, suggesting that disrupted Nts signaling may contribute to body weight disturbance. Curiously, Nts mediates seemingly opposing regulation of body weight via different tissues. Peripherally-acting Nts promotes fat absorption and weight gain, while central Nts signaling suppresses feeding and weight gain. Thus, because Nts is pleiotropic, a location-based approach must be used to understand its contributions to disordered body weight and whether the Nts system might be leveraged to improve metabolic health. Here we review the role of Nts signaling in the brain to understand the sites, receptors and mechanisms by which Nts can promote behaviors that modify body weight. New techniques permitting site-specific modulation of Nts and Nts receptor- expressing cells suggest that, even in the brain, not all Nts circuitry exerts the same function. Intriguingly, there may be dedicated brain regions and circuits via which Nts specifically suppresses feeding behavior and weight gain vs. other Nts-attributed physiology. Defining the central mechanisms by which Nts signaling modifies body weight may suggest strategies to correct disrupted energy balance, as needed to address overweight, obesity and eating disorders.