Pertinent to pandemic obesity, the discovery of endogenous peptides that affect the ingestion of food has led to the question of how these ingestive peptides exert their actions in the brain. Whereas peripheral sources provide a ready reserve, the availability of ingestive peptides to their central nervous system targets can be regulated by the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Some of the peptides/polypeptides are transported by saturable mechanisms from blood to brain. Examples include leptin, insulin, mahogany, and pancreatic polypeptide. Some enter the brain by passive diffusion, such as neuropeptide Y, orexin A, cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript, cyclo His-Pro, and amylin. Some others may have essentially no penetration of the BBB; this class includes agouti-related protein, melanin-concentrating hormone, and urocortin. The regulatory function of the BBB can be seen in various physiological states. Hyperglycemia may upregulate transport systems for leptin, urocortin, and galanin-like peptide, whereas fasting can down-regulate those for leptin and galanin-like peptide. Thus, the BBB plays a dynamic role in modulating the passage of ingestive peptides from blood to brain.
Keywords: Blood-brain barrier, feeding, leptin, obesity, transport.