Gut hormones communicate the status of energy balance in the body to the brain, regulating food intake. They are produced by different types of enteroendocrine cells scattered throughout the gastrointestinal epithelium. Nutrients stimulate G-protein coupled receptors on the luminal side of enteroendocrine cells, resulting in the release of gut hormones. These hormones act on targets tissues like exocrine glands, smooth muscle, the peripheral nervous system, the vagus nerve, brainstem and hypothalamus.
Table 1. Functions of various gut hormones.
|Hormone||Site of Production||Function|
|Ghrelin||Stomach||Stimulates appetite, informs brain
regarding food intake
|Stimulates production of gastric
juice containing pepsin and
hydrochloric acid and pancreatic
|Secretin||Duodenum||Stimulates pancreatic exocrine
secretion and slows down
emptying of stomach
|Cholecystokinin||Duodenum||Stimulates gall bladder secretions,
regulates gastro-intestinal motility,
pancreatic exocrine secretion,
appetite and GLP-1 secretion
|Pancreatic Polypeptide||Pancreas||Regulates gastric motility and
|Peptide YY||Small Intestine (ileum)
and large intestine (parts)
|Regulates passage of food along
the gut and inhibits appetite
|Glucagon-like Peptide 1
|Small intestine and colon||Inhibits appetite and gastric
emptying as well as stimulates
release of insulin
|Oxyntomodulin (OXM)||Large intestine||Regulates satiation and inhibits
gastric acid secretion
Research on gut hormones has provided new pharmacological targets against diseases like diabetes and obesity. Some of the strategies being explored include long-acting versions of gut hormones, combination therapy with 2 or more hormones, development of chimeric agonists and development of gut hormone secretagogues (compounds which induce secretion of another substance). Combination therapy can have additive effects on food intake, for example GLP-1 + OXM. GLP-1/glucagon chimeric agonists can combine appetite inhibition and energy expenditure effects to reduce obesity. Agonists of GPR-119 are examples of secretagogues that release both GLP-1 and PYY.
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