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Endocannabinoids and the Gut-Brain Control of Food Intake and Obesity


Gut-brain signaling controls food intake and energy homeostasis, and its activity is thought to be dysregulated in obesity. We will explore new studies that suggest the endocannabinoid (eCB) system in the upper gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in controlling gut-brain neurotransmission carried by the vagus nerve and the intake of palatable food and other reinforcers. A focus will be on studies that reveal both indirect and direct interactions between eCB signaling and vagal afferent neurons. These investigations identify (i) an indirect mechanism that controls nutrient-induced release of peptides from the gut epithelium that directly interact with corresponding receptors on vagal afferent neurons, and (ii) a direct mechanism via interactions between eCBs and cannabinoid receptors expressed on vagal afferent neurons. Moreover, the impact of diet-induced obesity on these pathways will be considered.

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