Brain Molecules and Appetite: The Case of Oleoylethanolamide
Jaime Zaldivar- Rae,
The neurobiological mechanisms of feeding involve the activity of several brain areas as well as the
engagement of endogenous compounds such as ghrelin, melanin-concentrating hormone, orexin, neuropeptide Y, leptin,
vasoactive intestinal peptide, cholecystokinin, among others. Furthermore, the family of food-intake modulators has been
enlarged due to the inclusion of lipids such as N-arachidonoylethanolamide (anandamide), as well as oleoylethanolamide
(OEA). In this regard, the food-intake suppressing properties of OEA have been described since pharmacological
administration of this compound induces anorexia. It has been suggested that satiety induced by OEA may be through the
activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPAR-α), a ligand-activated transcription factor that modulates
several pathways of lipid metabolism. The mechanism of action of OEA remains unknown, it has been suggested that the
ingestion of dietary fat stimulates epithelial cells of the small intestine and promotes the synthesis and release of OEA.
Upon its release, this lipid acts within the gut engaging sensory fibers of the vagus nerve to diminish food-intake. Here,
recent advances in our understanding of the neurobiological role of OEA in modulation of feeding will be reviewed. Also,
we highlight the emerging molecular mechanism of anorexia induced by OEA.
Keywords: Anorexia, central nervous system, endocannabinoids, feeding, hypothalamus
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