Cognitive And Autonomic Determinants of Energy Balance

Denis Richard, PhD, Professor, Université Laval, QC, Canada

Denis Richard, PhD, Professor, Université Laval, QC, Canada

While I’m here at the 10th Canadian Obesity Network Summer School (Boot Camp), in the Canadian Rockies, it is perhaps of interest to note that one of the founding faculty of this school, Denis Richard from Laval University, has just published a paper in Nature Reviews Endocrinology, which nicely reviews the complex neurobiology of energy balance.

The paper focuses largely on the “energy out” part of energy homeostasis, which is partly determined by the themogenesis of brown adipose tissue and mediated by the sympathetic nervous system.

Thus, several areas of the brain work together in complex neuronal networks involving a host of neuronal systems including the opioid, endocannabinoid and melanocortin systems, that not only control  appetite and eating behaviour but also thermogenesis.

These neuronal systems, in turn receive inputs from a wide range of peripheral organs including the gut, liver and adipose tissue via hormonal and neuronal pathways that signal energy stores and nutritional status.

The paper also discusses how some of these findings may be relevant to the development of novel treatments for obesity.

For researchers and students: the paper includes a number of excellent graphics that nicely illustrate these systems.

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