Immune and endocrine regulation of food intake in sick animals

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To understand why sick animals do not eat, investigators have studied how the immune system interacts with the central nervous system (CNS), where motivation to eat is ultimately controlled. The focus has been on the cytokines secreted by activated mononuclear myeloid cells, which include interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Either central or peripheral injection of recombinant IL-1β, IL- 6, and TNF-α reduce food-motivated behavior and food intake in rodents. Moreover, these cytokines and their receptors are present in the endocrine system and brain, and antagonism of this system (i.e., the cytokine network) has been shown to block or abrogate anorexia induced by inflammatory stimuli. Recent studies indicate that the same cytokines act on adipocytes and induce secretion of leptin, a protein whose activity has been neuroanatomically mapped to brain areas involved in regulating food intake and energy expenditure. Therefore, many findings converge to suggest that the reduction of food intake in sick animals is mediated by inflammatory cytokines, which convey a message from the immune system to the endocrine system and CNS. The nature of this interaction is the focus of this short review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-319
Number of pages11
JournalDomestic Animal Endocrinology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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