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A fatty gut feeling


The absorptive epithelium of the proximal small intestine converts oleic acid released during fat digestion into oleoylethanolamide (OEA), an endogenous high-affinity agonist of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPAR-α). OEA interacts with this receptor to cause a state of satiety characterized by prolonged inter-meal intervals and reduced feeding frequency. The two main branches of the autonomic nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic, contribute to this effect: the former by enabling OEA mobilization in the gut and the latter by relaying the OEA signal to brain structures, such as the hypothalamus, that are involved in feeding regulation. OEA signaling may be a key component of the physiological system devoted to the monitoring of dietary fat intake, and its dysfunction might contribute to overweight and obesity.

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