Regulation of energy balance by a gut-brain axis and involvement of the gut microbiota

Paige V. Bauer, Sophie C. Hamr, Frank A. Duca

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Despite significant progress in understanding the homeostatic regulation of energy balance, successful therapeutic options for curbing obesity remain elusive. One potential target for the treatment of obesity is via manipulation of the gut-brain axis, a complex bidirectional communication system that is crucial in maintaining energy homeostasis. Indeed, ingested nutrients induce secretion of gut peptides that act either via paracrine signaling through vagal and non-vagal neuronal relays, or in an endocrine fashion via entry into circulation, to ultimately signal to the central nervous system where appropriate responses are generated. We review here the current hypotheses of nutrient sensing mechanisms of enteroendocrine cells, including the release of gut peptides, mainly cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide-1, and peptide YY, and subsequent gut-to-brain signaling pathways promoting a reduction of food intake and an increase in energy expenditure. Furthermore, this review highlights recent research suggesting this energy regulating gut-brain axis can be influenced by gut microbiota, potentially contributing to the development of obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-755
Number of pages19
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • CCK
  • GLP-1
  • Gut microbiome
  • PYY
  • Satiation
  • Satiety
  • Short-chain fatty acid
  • Small intestine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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